No Advice (for Kira and Amy)

Posted: May 4, 2010 in Poetry

CONTEXT: November, 2009

The origins of this poem are two-fold. The first lays in my desire to help teenagers who went through some of the internal crap that plagued me when I was growing up.

I was ‘troubled’ – ,essed up – depressed. Now the reaction from many people is something along the lines of ‘who wasn’t?’, but that is a terrible attitude. To the kid, what they are going through is so unique to them, whether it is or not, that nobody could possibly understand. How can you get past that?

I touched on the worst of it in I Made My Mother Cry and Halifax.

So then, if I want to help those kid – to let them know it gets better – how could I do that? I tried a little bit with I Wanna and Step Back, but I wasn’t convinced.

Finally it was in a thread on the Toronto Poetry Slam message board that told me what I needed to hear. Jill Binder gave me the advice to get through to them by talking about what I went through rather than what they are going through.

Good advice.

I actually wrote this poem at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Victoria. My family came and saw me perform for the first time, including my two nieces.

I finally wrote it.

    No Advice (for Kira & Amy)

Floating into a west coast hometown
Tongue dripping with rhymes sublime
Supine, a fine-grind moroccan roast
Of a morning wake-up
As my family appears to hear
For the first time.
I look at two beautiful nieces,
Sixteen and thirteen,
With all the ‘growing too fast’ cracks.
Every minute to me is a year of
Life to them.
Level-headed, well-adjusted women –
I thank the world for them
And wonder what I would say if
They needed the advice of who
They used to call Uncle Giant.
A giant who was once a skinny
Punk who would have been called
Emo if it had been invented yet.
Instead call me PRIMO
Because it sure didn’t seem funny
When truth fought with the acid
Words of the cruelest
Bastard children of unstatisfied
Parents who teach that
Happiness means upping yourself
By cutting others –
Ankle wounds that steal your base
And run through your veins like
Ice cold IVs of sub-zero saline
To the heart.
But when you are told you
Are nothing for so long –
When do you start to believe it?
Growing to hate your name
When it becomes a chant
By some who can find
Only darkness in
Their own skylines.
‘Rusty’ ‘Rusty’
Identity becomes insult.
How can you find refuge
In a sense of self
When your self is what
You are trying to find
Refuge from?
But this is getting a bit
Whiney for me,
Sitting around pining to see
That rainbow to jump over
Like the cow and the moon,
The power to tune out the
Cackling teeth of the
The strength to say
To those who can’t see
Your beauty because it
Blinds them to their own.
Shrug off the cloak
Of self-doubt
Cinched in like a double
Padlocked stright jacket
As you are lowered, head first
Into a chest in a tank of
But you are Houdini and this is
Just another trick to entertain
Those who are waiting to applaud you
On the other side.
Advice for a teenager is like
A single pair of track shoes for
An Olympic centipede –
A nice thought, but not enough
To get the job done.
I can only tell my nieces what
Uncle Giant went through and
How I came out, twice as large
As life on the other side –
Bruised and broken at times,
But whole and strong, all the time.
I can show them proof
That you can only carry
Other people’s baggage for so long
Until you realize
That you are nobody’s packhorse
And trying to be
Atlas puts too much
Weight on everyone’s
I want to show them
What it looks like
On the other side
Of the river of doubt.
But mostly I can tell them to listen
And hear what it means now
When they start chanting
My name.


Next is a failed and a successful love poem… both in the same poem!

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rusty Priske. Rusty Priske said: #rustythepoet No Advice (for Kira & Amy) […]

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