Throwback [poem] for back to school

As I rediscover my talents and rebellion against completing tasks I feel carry little meaning, I reflect on the work I’m about to reenter and what it means.

Education and teaching (and learning) in all its forms have always meant a very great deal to me, but the meaning is more than an abstract belief in the “power” of the “knowledge” the governing elite have deemed worthy of passing on to our nation’s children: among many things, it’s a great deal about who I’m teaching and why. That’s an entirely different writing in itself. But this, this is a small part of that. This one is for the loved generous enough to let me invade their lives while I stumblingly tried to understand the presence of red tape that seemed to always be popping up…

The poem that will never capture enough or ten months learning how much I wish I knew I didn’t know

(to my students)

Putting crayons in a box like I want to fit words into lines,
Every word I never wrote during those ten months
I now dedicate to my students, class of seventeen:
To the child with the biggest heart and the broken memory
Whose culminating project was but a four-lined poem :
“The tree is small and/the bark of the tree is brown./
white are the leaves/and the raspberries sweet.”
memorized on my heart forever:
A raised scar reminding me that not all men are created equal,
And not all work has a tangible product
When equal is a government contract;
To the child with the truest beauty she fears will never reflect in her face,
A little different by birth
A model of strength and perseverance,
Though magazines don’t reward for these traits.
She showed me sometimes Life is the bully with no face
And fists can’t fight the demons built by society;
To the child afraid of growing up
That taught me there are worse things in life than not knowing what comes next or
How to get there,
Like knowing exactly what could come next and fearing the lack of power to change it;
Where words poetic once outlined my soul now crowd the names of students –
students failed, loved, missed, dreaded, and polished, students of excessive creativity and an abundant sense of humour and a style all their own, students who throw fits and textbooks and come in with a smile the next day, students with the world in their eyes and yet just out of reach…
I do not seek to claim credit for the light any of my students possess but
only serve to help them shine a little brighter.
I have been teaching and been shaped now less by words of vanity than the
simple
requests by my children.
And to them I dedicate every word in the dictionary:
I hope you learn half of them -Fill your mental machine gun,
because not all words are lovely -and then
keep half of your own because you command your voices and it’s your future that needs to be heard:Sacrifice none of your creativity to become who they pretend you can be and who I know you already are.
I dedicate to you every hour I now give to helping any person, child, parent, businessman, or beggar,
because I pray it will come back to you
And reach you in the areas a lesson plan couldn’t.
I dedicate to you every unwritten poem I never wrote
because I was “busy,” trying to figure out you and I and how do I conceptualize our society, and I
dedicate it without irony or bitterness because
you were all worth everything I had to say and could have said,
Yet my words would still be less in comparison to the beauty I saw in you.
So I simply say:

Thank you
thank you.

Thank you.

(2013 and Forever forward)

Give Sharkey a piece of your mind.

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