A collection of Psalms: Exploring life through poetry


Lizzy Camp

April is National Poetry Month, which celebrates the work of poets all around the world.

Lizzy Camp, News Director

This article contains mentions of depression and suicidal thoughts. If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800-273-8255) or by clicking this link. 

April is National Poetry Month, which celebrates the work of poets all around the world. Poetry has always been an outlet for me, but these past few months, I have started to compose a collection of poems I titled Psalms. I was raised religious, and as I have grown up, my relationship with it has become more complicated and questioned. But I always loved the Psalms, sacred pieces of poetry that were full of deep emotion. In my very first Psalm, I pulled on the definition of the word for inspiration. 


Psalm One
Will anyone remember me in another time?
How many have I forgotten as the leaves fall?
A list of things that will not change
is a blank piece of paper
and an unused pen.
Psalm (sä(l)m) 1. n. A sacred song of hymn
2. (cap.) any of the songs, hymns, or prayers contained in the Book of Psalms.
The only dictionary in my house
has a cracked spine
and gold lettering
And contains words I have never said.
A waltz (1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2 3)
and dancing
with one who does not love me.
How can you continue to dance?
Is my love forbidden or forgotten?
Letters discarded, never responded.
Words decomposing at the end of autumn. 


I had just been through a heartbreak I knew was bound to happen, but nonetheless, it still hurt. Many of these poems hit on topics that are too hard for me to express to those around me with normal words, and writing them down helped me process my feelings. Before I wrote Psalm Four, I had just finished watching one of my favorite shows, Over the Garden Wall. There is a scene in the show with a bird trapped in a bush, which seemed like a minor plot point, but it stuck with me for some inexplicable reason. At the time of writing, I had just had a fight with my mom, and my feelings around my parents were cloudy. 


Psalm Four
A bird
trapped in a bush.
Stuck in a cage
made by its own


Some of my poems are shorter, others are pages long depending on what I need to express. Psalm Five is heavily inspired by the works of Sappho, a poet in ancient Greece well known for her lyrical poetry. I had checked out a book of her work translated from the library, and the pure love that flowed through her poems and vivid imagery inspired me.  


Psalm Five
I wish to share an orange with you, my dear.
In the sunshine where the sickly sweet juice
drips down our throats and hands.
And I will peel back my skin
and let you see what truly lies inside.
I bet your lips would taste sweeter in the summer sun
and shimmering with orange. 


Psalm Thirteen marks one of the first poems in my collection that encapsulated a darker time in my life. Near the end of October, a steady, dull sadness began to penetrate my life and take over my emotions. The strong longing to pick up my life and leave to another place was everywhere in my brain. I often spent long nights alone in my room, or in the shower, letting the water wash over my skin until I felt like I was burning. 

If I covered my shower drain, would I drown?


Psalm Thirteen
If I covered my shower drain,
would I drown?
It said it had rose and chamomile in it,
but the soap suds still taste bitter in my mouth.


Although this sadness had taken over my brain, there were still bright spots. The end of the marching season was rapidly approaching as I wrote Psalm Seventeen the night after our Lakewood competition, perhaps one of the most well-known moments within the band. Our electronics had failed, leading to a very entertaining high-pitched sped up performance. After the initial shock of what we believed was the worst performance of our lives, we ended up winning first place. I do not think I have ever laughed as hard as I did that night. 


Psalm Seventeen
Pink covers the eyes and cheeks of my friends.
I laugh too hard and I am happy. 


The sadness that I carried with me was especially prevalent at night, where I would sit alone for hours mulling over my past failures. Everything I said was meticulously picked apart in my brain and examined for every mistake. Birthdays I had missed, passing comments I had said, anything and everything I said was horrible. I felt like a failure. Psalm Twenty was written during the dead hours in the night, while I was confused, tired, and lost. 


Psalm Twenty
Counting my regrets and mistakes is quite tiring.
Why can’t I fall asleep?


Psalm Twenty-Five is a rare love poem to myself in my book of poetry. I write lots of poems involving love and feelings around others, but this one is a love song about me. It has taken me years to build up love for my body, my skin, and my brain. I still struggle with self-image and worth, but this poem marks an occasion where I felt especially beautiful, and was basking in the feeling of being at home in my body. 


Psalm Twenty-Five
I am so beautiful!
Why has no one told me before?
My skin rolls like the hills,
and is soft like the leaves.
My scars are layers of rock and I smell of flowers.
Oh, I am truly Mother Earth’s child!


What would I say if there was no fear?

Psalm Twenty-Seven is, perhaps, my shortest poem yet. It was written during school, while I sat thinking about those in my life. I have not felt romantically for anyone in a long time, but during this particular day, I was overwhelmed by love for my friends. I wanted to tell all of them how I felt, how much they meant to me, but I held it in. What would have happened if I spoke my mind? By choosing to keep the love to myself, I will never know what could have been said. 


Psalm Twenty-Seven
What would I say if there was no fear?


As band ended and winter set in, the sadness did not leave. It turned from gut-wrenching sorrow to numb unhappiness, something that sat with me everyday. I wanted to leave. I needed to leave. But there was the problem of those I would leave behind. I knew that I would miss them with every bone in my body. Psalm Thirty-Two explored this feeling, the longing of wanting to just go that was so strong, but also not wanting to leave those I loved behind. 


Psalm Thirty-Two
I do not know if you will miss me,
but know I’ll miss you most of all.
Your smile, your eyes.
Each callused finger and every soft giggle.
I do not know if you will miss me,
but know I will miss you,
most of all. 


During this dark time in my life, one of the happiest memories I have is sitting in the small practice room with my friends while I worked on homework and they played piano. It was nothing more than music, but I found that it was one of the things that made me happiest and feel the most content. Psalm Thirty-Five was written to celebrate these moments in which I felt so joyful. 

You deserve so much more love and kindness than I could’ve ever given you.


Psalm Thirty-Five
I do believe that all the happiness in history
can be contained in a single room with a piano.
And each key played sings a love song
from one life to another. 


Psalm Forty-Two is the most important piece of poetry I wrote. It is hard to share, especially since it symbolizes the darkest point in my life. It is addressed to four of my friends, who were the closest to me at that time. Their names have been shortened for privacy reasons. This poem was meant to be my last message to them, something for them to gain closure. None of them ever received these words because I got help, and although I still struggle with those dark thoughts, they are less strong than they used to be. This poem answers the question in Psalm Twenty-Seven, exploring what platonic love means to me with all these people. It also was a poem that I could come back to during dark times, and it often reminded me of the people that I needed to live for, even when I could not live with myself. 


Psalm Forty-Two
For my friends, when I am gone.
For my dear A-
I never truly told you how I loved you.
How I dreamed for you day and night.
And how, even after I knew you could never feel the same,
I still chased.
I miss you, my darling.
For N-
I have no words.
I have had no words since the day I met you.
How could one person be so kind? So loving? So forgiving?
It feel like our time together was little more than a fantasy,
framed in hues of pink and sunlight.
For my lovely W-
You are my sun.
My light and night and stars.
And even when it all seemed so far away,
you were there.
To be kind.
To help me hold on a little longer.
Please, love, hold on a little longer.
αγαπημένη μου
For S-
I don’t think I ever said how much you mean to me.
When I had nothing,
I still had the practice room piano.
And when I was lost,
I still had your smile and laugh.
You deserve so much more love and kindness than I could’ve ever given you.


After Psalm Forty-Two, the amount of poetry I wrote steadily decreased. I got busy with my life, and wrote only when I had emotions that were too strong to process in my brain. Psalm Fifty was the last recent poem I have written,  following a hard day. I felt like this poem should have been a celebration, I had written fifty poems after all. But instead it showed how tired I felt. 


Psalm Fifty
I am too numb to write anything beautiful
and I’m not sure how to spell fifty.
I don’t think this is very poetic.
But nothing is. 


Throughout my months of writing the collections of Psalms, I have explored my highest highs and lowest lows throughout the process. Using poetry to explore my compassion has led to me being able to express my feelings in a way that I never have before. I hope to continue writing, and I hope that this sample of poems has inspired you to write your own, or at the very least, remind those around you that they are loved.