I was told as a young boy creating paper airplanes in spare time
that I could be a pilot when I grow up, I believed it.
I was told as a young Ronaldo scoring golazo after golazo
that I could play for the United States National Soccer Team
if I worked my—butt off. I watched the World Cup like a crystal ball.
I was told, “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate;
our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
Supplemented inspirational quotes like vitamins everyday I
ate for breakfast, and it was an addictive nourishment.
I was told, “Kid, there ain’t nothing sweeter than success.”
My parents taught me to speak with chin up
Project voice through diaphragm,
So when I felt resistance,
“Alex never push back, Alex simply march on”
with tender palms, a firm heart, and sharp skin.
When I was young, I was taught I could be anything I wanted to be
and to my parents’ disappointment I believed it.
Flashback to first grade the teacher acts more like a tailor
dressing children with confidence
Mrs. Jackson would address us like Astronauts,
I was jetpack ready
we all felt projected for the Moon, back then
we were given the freedom to explore our innocence
our Picasso hands would fruitfully bloom into crayon sketches
PE was our Olympics, the American Dream was alive,
at that age, parental responses didn’t start with “Well… I don’t think you can”
Over time, my broadened EYES started to converge,
acting won’t make you money, KID you ain’t strong enough, KID you ain’t fast enough,
it’s laughable, you think poetry is tangible, KID you need to grow up
MOM you should see their faces when I tell a story,
DAD I know you don’t consider spoken word to be “real poetry”
but the Earth used to be flat
and Hip-Hop used to be Jazz
and Pluto used to be a planet
and how I plan it, there isn’t a need for an option B or C
What my parents fail to realize is you can’t stop a rocket midflight
when it’s fueled by a disgusting work ethic, unparalleled self-confidence,
I think therefore I will, you taught me this
What my parents fail to realize,
is you can’t stop a shooting star once it’s already been seen
see I’ve been practicing for years, four years in counting
I’ve tricked my lungs into breathing when no oxygen was present
You can’t stop an astronaut when he’s been dreaming in space his whole life.
When we are five years old we are conditioned to believe in self,
and every year after we are nitpicked
until we are constructed into the perfect Rubik’s Cube
that fits into a 9-5 cubicle, free thought is tongue tied, is this suitable?
Gravity can’t even stop me, what makes you think you can
this goes out to every wide-eyed five-year-old child
when they tell you, that you can be anything you want to be
when you grow up…
Alex Salazar is a spoken word poet who recently performed at regionals alongside the California State University Northridge slam poetry team. He won the June 2017 People’s Choice Poem Performance Award at the San Diego Art Institute.