Monday, August 15, 2011

PA wednesday prompt - School - 4 Poems

There in the dancing dust
motes of whirling ever after
sun shafted light
sparkles books lined
limnimg the light of future
fluttering in the rustle
of limitless leaves yet


Amy On The Table

There in the middle of the room
Atop the shining floor clean broomed
A table moved for all to see clear
Bright faces gathered round to hear

What is this that you see up there?
Climbed table top by this placed chair
Was Amy all could plainly see
Instructed there by Mrs. B.

No, not Amy there you plainly see
You see a case of charity
Trumpeted loudly Mrs. B.
We give this girl her milk money

While all of you bring in your dues
And pay your way in ones and twos
Amy alone gets a free ride
All because of a lack of pride

As pale Amy climbed down with care
Some reached for her and hugged her there


In the hot sun blazing they schooled
in louvered mobile buildings
tiny children people bright eyed and
boys in khaki pants, knife creased
girls in maroon knee grazing skirts 
all in shirts bleached, starched, 
 bright-white, ironed stiff
good children taught in the “Brit” way
hands folded expecting the stick 
for a wrong response
second graders having learned the ways
back in first when they were new
But then there was
sparkling eyes, dancing footed spirit
crammed into his uniform
confined to a seat, bursting,
jiggling,  giggling, 
A real teacher would have stocked
his legs each day
A real teacher would not have
smiled and had him promise
to be good for just this one year 
A real teacher would have expected
at years’ end handing 
out report cards like diplomas
that Holder, eyes flashing, 
feet stomping, would  
in righteous indignation
shout in the blaze of the betrayed 
this year!

A real teacher would have
told him there was more,
so much more to come


The Staircase

His name was Donald, he sat in the back
in a long black leather coat
On that 80 degree first day of ninth grade
though he should have been long gone
he carried only a single new black
 looseleaf binder filled with laminated
litanies, he ran a long finger over and
mumbled under his breath, as if in prayer
alone in the back of the room
he filled out no tiny card of identification
He had his long black coat
stinking slightly of summer and sweat
trickles running down the corner of his
temples as he ran that long finger over
‘his lessons"
Listed as Donald
he raised his head 
only to "Justice" his new name
told by the binder-givers
that this "white-devil" school
designed to corrupt
He failed each class, appeared
as an ancient spectre
closing his ears and mind, as he had promised
until he heard her
read Langston, and put his long foot
on that first crystal stair
and began to climb in his now stinking coat
hulking in the back, eyes lit
hand on the closed binder, he smiled a small smile
another day he accepted a piece of lined paper
and wrote in the block lettering of a child, man-sized pain
spilling faster each day
his mother was called,  waited for
grim news and heard of this writing
that filled his binder clipped  page after page clipped in front of
his laminated hate 
he passed each class
until he climbed that June graduate staircase
as "most improved student" accepting a savings bond
and a diploma smiling in that 
white shirt, and caramel suit that shone
outside in the sunlight, his mother beamed
teacher cried as Donald and Justice
self-served stood 
atop that crystal staircase



  1. I enjoyed all four, but The Staircase really spoke to me. Everyone has known a Justice, but not every Justice found a teacher who could reach him; God bless those who do. Sometimes his Justice is dealt out from under that long black coat--like Columbine.

  2. Thank you Mike... don't always write things 'from life" but this prompt was too evocative to avoid a memory that still after many many years is as fresh as yesterday....

  3. Lots of energy here. I love children...have five grown ones and lots of grandkids. My sister is a teacher as is my daughter so these speak to me in a big way. Your imagery pulls me in. Thank You!