Pay it Forward icon 1Pay It Forward

Azia Ruff

Three hundred words to tell the world
how to pay it forward.
How does one contain such a concept
within a quarter page article?
I am just a youth, with half the clues as you

I am just a youth, with nothing but my memories,
many friends lost but few kept in the making.
I don’t feel I’m in the position to do so
and yet it is my job to do this.
How does one with a half-empty heart
tell another how to use theirs to the fullest?

I know nothing that you don’t
And feel nothing that you haven’t.
Like you, all I have are my memories
without sense to make anything out of it.
The best I can do is let them guide me.

I think about what I am and the potential of
who I want to be and how bleak life was
when I couldn’t grasp it.
The person person writing today is not the same
as the person from which she came.
Once a caterpillar, I am now a butterfly:

Asleep during the change.
But now that I am free from my own
Process’s cage, beautiful in metamorphosis,
I can look back without shame
and share my thoughts about paying it forward
that is rich in its formlessness:

Tell me,
How did you get where you are?
You social being,
you human being,
you literal trophy of love, space, and time
In a world of hills and lakes, sky and ocean?

Your two legs will only get you so far.
We are our friends and we are our experiences.

No matter how you categorize it
the whole world has had a part in your making.
From the people you see, to the trees
that recycle the air they breathe:
Everything is everything and
Without you, nothing could be.

2020 Archives

We Welcome
Your Work

We welcome submissions of articles, poetry, artwork, and photography from our young readers who have experience in the foster care system and/ or homelessness. If you want to be, or have been, published in the Mockingbird Times visit, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ Note: Incoming letters to the editor and correspondence to youth under 18 years should be addressed to the Mockingbird Times and will be opened first by adult editorial staff.