On Running Away

They may not think of it as running away,
But at 15 they:
Entered the convent and put on the veil
Got in the pimpís car and became a whore
Enlisted and were given a gun
Joined the sect to work for free.
    Many never got out alive.

Never join if they tell you
What food you canít eat (for religion, not health)
What clothes you must wear (that mark you as different and owned)
What musicís forbidden (even if no one else hears)
How your hair must be cut (for organizational reasons)

Run away!
They are stealing your life with their vows and their lies!
Run away! You are under no obligation to stay!

But running away does not need to mean attempting suicide -
From that too, many never get out aliveÖ

O young people!
At 15 it is best, if you have to leave home,
To go overseas on a high school exchange for a year.
Almost as good (but short term)
Is to run to your familyís friends
Or your friendsí families.
But if you have to leave family behind
It is better to run off and join the circus
Or move in with an artist
Or work your way round the world on a boat
And to go from idea to idea
(This is the secret. Not to get stuck in any idea. The world is too large),
Than to live with the one-idea people
Who will suck your brain dry.

You may never get out alive.

Robin Helweg-Larsen

If you have any comments on this poem, Robin Helweg-Larsen would be pleased to hear from you.