There are teenagers out here still listening to Paramore, apparently

Marlin M. Jenkins



                                        for and after Kyndall Flowers

It’s been ten+ years since Paramore’s second album,

Riot!, dropped and it’s nice to know that angst

hasn’t left the youth. It’s been ten+ years

but still Hayley Williams got us wondering

what we get when we let our hearts win; it’s been

ten+ years and still I remember my grandmother

at the camp trailer, performing a close reading

of “Misery Business,” explaining how the lyrics

“But god does it feel so good that I got him where

I want him now” is all about sex. And still, Hayley,

I am in the business of misery. Still Hayley sings

“give me something to sing about” and oh how

I have exploited my trauma for poems, made bad decisions

to channel into sad art. I thought I would be past

this by now — past panic attacks and how depression

is a dull pain leaking joy from a thin crack. Past

how rage broils in the broken oven of an angsty

spirit, the tomb of me shrieking like a pop-punk

guitar. When Hayley told me "I’ve gone for too long

living like I’m not alive, so I’m gonna start over

tonight" I didn’t know how many times

I’d need to start over. I thought I would be past

days when the bed is home until it’s dark,

past depressed video game binges. But still, I am

that boy, listening to Paramore in a church

basement, sitting alone in the dark in a Detroit

bedroom, clinging to the words of emo-punk

when my tired fingers couldn’t cling

to anything else. And yes, things are different:

I’ve been to therapy, I’ve developed strategies,

I did more school and got more pieces of paper

that claim achievement but some days still

I am stuck in cope when I’d rather be in thrive,

some days barely surviving, making a friend

of guilt but Hayley taught me something about

dancing in a fire, about how to forge. Today

I did nothing until 5 pm; today the world

is heavy, memory clings to my sadness

like a wet sheet on moist skin, but I heard

a song and it wasn’t a sad memory. And I have

something to sing about. And I have tried

to hide from the versions of past self, but still

that confused little boy is singing something

angry and angsty, saccharine with sentimental hope,

and whatever has or hasn’t changed in him

what’s important is he is still, he has stayed, he is here.


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