I was born into a land I don’t deserve.
Joined its military ranks but didn’t serve.
Did it all for me and acted like I wasn’t free,
but now I see a way of life we must preserve.

America’s the only place on earth
where your circumstances don’t define your worth.
If you don’t believe, then pack a bag a leave
and see how many countries give you berth.

There’s a reason why America’s the dream.
People leave families behind to join our team.
Equal opportunity for all, not just you and me,
a promise offered only by our regime.

Americans today are so confused.
Free to choose but say we are abused.
Those who hate, almost seem to benefit the most
from the same system which stands to be accused.

We’re not perfect, but if you focus on
every single flaw and every con,
and fight to make the west the same as all the rest,
you’ll miss what you had when it is gone.


Today I saw a thief.
He stole a morning snack.
I went to approach him
to say, “Go put it back!”

I simply can’t explain.
Perhaps just in a mood.
I stopped to think about the
fact, he may need the food.

His clothes were ragged
but that’s the style of today.
I didn’t want to judge him
in that specific way.

He may have children
whom haven’t had a bite,
for several aching days;
for several waking nights.

The thief had come and gone
while imagining his plight.
The shop owner arrived,
but the thief was out of sight.

He looked to me and said,
“Thieves don’t know the cost.
I’ll have to sell 15 just
to make up what I’ve lost.”

Then, I felt conflicted,
‘cause in the thief’s defense,
he must eat to live, but
not at this man’s expense.

This man has a family
depending on his store.
Now they’ll miss a meal-
the thief missed many more.

Stealing is always wrong.
I know this much is true.
I can’t help but wonder
what I, or you, would do?

Better Than You

You said to me, “I’m better than you.”
I disagreed and I puffed my chest
but inside I knew, it’s true.

That’s all it took to gain my admiration.
You didn’t have to prove it – I was yours.
My thoughts, poisoned by your put downs, 
were obsessed
with climbing
your ladder
of approval.

What can I do to be your equal?
Maybe if I got a higher score,
Or made friends with yours,
and if they looked up to me
with praise akin
to how they praised you,
you’d raise your chin
and see me eye to eye.
But you don’t
and I don’t
know why.

I’m better at sports,
better at school,
have more friends,
broke more rules,
made more money,
traveled more too.
You know what?
I’m better than you!

But how can I convince you,
like you did me, when my words
don’t phase you at all?
We don’t speak unless I call.
I bet you don’t notice
when the phone doesn’t ring.
I sit and stare, getting madder
by the minute;
You should be begging for my time!

I laugh at your failures.
I say you deserve it.
I try hard to be perfect;
waiting for you
to tell me I’m worth it,
because in your presence
I don’t feel like a person!

A seed planted in my youth,
bloomed to become my truth.
Thoughts into reality,
I’ve doubted me
my entire life.

Years fighting your voice,
only to find;
it was never yours – It was mine.

The Cure For Life

Life is an illness for which there’s no cure.
Fright into stillness, a knock at the door.
Imploring words spoken, I chose to ignore.
The door flew wide open, I fell to the floor.

“Oh my word my dear child!” This voice was uncaring,
“What has happened to you that is so overbearing?
”She grinned and leaned in, said, “Tell me your strife.”
“I’m suffering from this forsaken life!”

“Suffering?” she asked, “Then we mustn’t waste time.”
I felt her intentions becoming malign.
A cloaked formed around her. A blade flicked a shine.
My words did confound her, “I was faking, I’m fine!”

I was shaking as I continued to cry.
“I was wrong for thinking the cure was to die!”
She replied, “Too bad you realized this too late.
You’ve made your decision, now suffer the fate!”

Life is an illness.
Appreciation – the cure.
Don’t take it for granted or
the knock may be at Your door.

The Mountain

The wind howled.
A point to prove.
The Mountain would not move.

The thunder roared.
The lightning struck
the Mountain with no luck!

The rain stormed
and threw a fit.
The Mountain would not submit.

When the earth
began to quake.
The Mountain would not break.

They all attacked,
inch by inch.
The Mountain would not flinch.

When pressure comes
from all around.
Be the Mountain. Stand your ground.

-Robert J. Harrigan

The Battle Within

Holding on to anger,
one can not deny,
is like drinking poison,
expecting foes to die.

A walking contradiction,
how I’ve always been.
Achieve invisibility,
grieve when I’m not seen.

Behind these bars of silence.
Imprisoned inside Hell.
The door’s unlocked, however,
afraid to leave my cell.

The battle against evil,
the conquering of sin,
is not against each other,
it’s happening within.

The time I Rapped For Ice T

It was February 2015 and I was walking through the halls of Bunker Hill Community College when I saw a flyer saying Ice T was coming to speak and tickets were free, but limited.

I was two years out of the military and close to graduating with my AA degree in English. Prior to joining the US Navy, I spent every waking moment pursuing a career in Hip Hop. Needless to say, Ice T coming to my school was a pretty big deal to me.

I got my ticket and for the rest of the week I imagined scenarios in my head of meeting Ice T, rapping for him, and him being so impressed he signed me on the spot!

I didn’t get signed, BUT I got the opportunity to rap for him and he was impressed, so I’ll take it as a win.

Have you ever felt like you made something come true just but wanting it bad enough? That’s how I felt about getting the chance to rap for Ice T. Every day until he came to speak at the school, I put it out into the universe that I was going to rap for him no matter what.

The day came. I was excited to go to school. I practiced my verse over and over. I imagined the moment the opportunity would present itself for me to rap.

I arrived early and the auditorium was already half packed. Didn’t matter. The universe had my back. I sat about mid way up, but in an isle seat (just in case he called me to the front).

He came out, we clapped, and he proceeded to give an inspiring talk about his life and some of the obstacles he overcame to get where he is today. I must admit, I was surprised at how funny he was. I’ve only known him through his rap persona and TV/film, but he was so down to earth and made me genuinely laugh.

He talked about his time in the Army before becoming a rapper and it was so cool to imagine a young Ice T, or Tracy Marrow then, serving our country and living the military life style.

His talk came to an end and his manager broke the news. Ice T was on a tight schedule so they’d only take 3 questions. My shoulder nearly popped out of the socket with how fast I threw my hand up. He didn’t even look in my direction.

One down.

I threw my hand up again and sat up straight, glaring at Ice T. He looked at me. There’s no way he didn’t see me. I thought for sure he was about to call on me, but he turned to the other side of the room and picked someone else.

Two down.

This is it. The final question they’re going to allow. It was now or never. I threw my hand up, I might have even wiggled my fingers, I stared at him, trying to will him to look in my direction. However, he called on a girl in the middle section, way in the back of the room.

Three down.

It was over. I was crushed. I really thought I was going to get the chance. She didn’t even have a question. She drew him a picture and asked if she could come up and give it to him. I guess asking to go up to him was technically a question. He took the artwork and marveled at it. He thanked her. Then, I heard his voice over the speakers, “I guess that technically wasn’t a question, I’ll take one more.”

Boom. He looked right at my as my hand shot up. We locked eyes. He saw me seeing him seeing me. We both knew he had to call on me. He even said, “I gotta call on the dude with the Pittsburgh hat.”

I stood up and said, “It’s Boston Bruins.”

He put both his hands on his head like, “I’m in Boston, how did I mess that up?” The room chuckled. It was a fun moment. In his defense, from where I was sitting he could only see the black and yellow colors.

Then I said, “First, I want to thank you for your service. As a fellow veteran and rapper, I was hoping I could rap for you.”

He said, “You better be good.” and someone brought me a microphone. We weren’t allowed to bring our phones to this event, but thankfully someone snuck one in and recorded this grainy video.

I was high on life. I felt like the man. After the video cuts out and the cheering stopped, Ice T told me he could tell I really rap. He was pleasantly surprised and appreciated the lyricism. Unfortunately, his manager came from behind the curtain and basically dragged him away. I wish he had just a few more minutes because I felt like he would have engaged in a conversation with me.

After he left and we were released, I stepped out of the auditorium to a group of people waiting to meet me. They took pictures and I felt like a celebrity for a moment. The girl who took the video told me she recorded it and we exchanged information so she could send it.

That was it. The next day it was as if it never happened. I arrived on campus and was a ghost again. But it didn’t matter. I got to rap for Ice T, a legend in the game, and he told me I was dope. I rode that high for a long time. I still think back on it and feel good. I was just thinking about it and that’s why I wrote this article. Thanks for reading!

CHOMP! (A Shark Week Poem)

I went swimming after dark –
late night – a great white shark
swam up and parked –
brake light eyes – red,
then he said,

“This is not a dream.
You should scream
when I’m on screen –
I’m mean.
Haven’t you seen
my movie scenes?
Duunnn-Dunnn – Have
you heard my theme?”

I was silent and still – malaise
as he gazed,
violent yet chill – unphased.
This giant with gills portrays
how he sways – naiant, his grill

I said, “please don’t eat me.”
My knees shook discreetly,
“Look – these arms,” *squeeze*
“completely meat-free.”

I drifted east, back to shore.
He said,
“You’re no feast, that’s for sure.”
I sighed relief until the beast said,
“But that’s what snacks are for!”


Why I Write Poetry

I still remember the first poem I wrote.

I was the new kid, as usual, in a fourth grade classroom. I had already moved too many times to count and I didn’t have any friends. School was just the place I went while my mother was at work. Each school I attended was at a different level academically than the others, so I fell behind in math and science, but I had no trouble keeping up in English. I could read and write on par with the rest of the students, so I felt comfortable in my English classes.

The teacher was Mrs. Lowe. I can’t remember her face, but I remember she had short (to her chin), dark hair. She wore a dress, and was always smiling. I joined her classroom during a time when she was teaching creative writing. She had us write short stories and read them aloud in class. I wrote about a snowman in the summertime. She also had us recite poetry from memory, and write our own.

While the other students memorized the shortest poems they could find, I memorized a poem called “The Gnome” by Harry Behn.

I saw a Gnome
As plain as plain
Sitting on top
Of a weathervane.

He was dressed like a crow
In silky black feathers,
And there he sat watching
All kinds of weathers.

He talked like a crow too,
Caw caw caw,
When he told me exactly
What he saw,

Snow to the north of him
Sun to the south,
And he spoke with a beaky
Kind of a mouth.

But he wasn’t a crow,
That was plain as plain
‘Cause crows never sit
On a weathervane.

What I saw was simply
A usual gnome
Looking things over
On his way home.

I spent every waking moment memorizing it until I had to present. I think we had a few days, maybe a week. As the children went up, one by one, most of them did a terrific job reciting their poems. When it was my turn, I’ll never forget the look on my teacher’s face when I successfully recited the entire poem. Looking back now, it isn’t the longest poem, but for 9 year old me, it was the longest piece of writing I’ve ever attempted to memorize.

Mrs. Lowe gave me a standing ovation, and told me how impressed she was with me. That small gesture, my first praise beyond my mother, made a huge impact on me. It only solidified when I wrote my first poem.

“Thanksgiving Turkey”

The Thanksgiving turkey ran away
We tried to catch him everyday
Up and down, left and right
When we’d catch him, he would fight
One day we got him, now it’s through
Now we can make our Thanksgiving stew

I was so proud of this poem. I couldn’t wait to turn it in. When Mrs. Lowe read it, she gave me more praise. I had never felt so uplifted in my life. I wanted to do anything I could to make her happy and proud of me. From that day forth, I became a Poet.

I read all types of poetry, my favorites being Dr. Seuss and Shel Sylverstein.

I couldn’t wait to show Mrs. Lowe every one of my poems. Sadly, I had to move again. Poverty moved us around every few months. I’ll never forget Mrs. Lowe for what she’d done for me. I took poetry with me everywhere I went. It became my escape. My place of comfort. My friend. It helped me make sense of the world. Poetry is everything to me, and I’ll happily do it for the rest of my life.