for being a teacher. With the lie levels
rising in newspapers, emails,
the steady flood of anti-
until I am in-
is this incredible
into writing, but I, hypocrite, cannot
check my mail without earplugs
and blinders now. There is always a top
story that burns my cheeks ashen,
and I am scattered by breath.
who’ve taken on loans and grey-streaked temples
to brace for the fight.
These headlines are about these politicians,
their pockets, and their pride. Articles
full of double speak and forked-tongue
hissing. The mayor and the board deal students
as playing cards in stacked decks.
is never getting out of jail and his mom has breast cancer.
That she is the first in her family to go to college
and got a full ride. That he came out of the closet, and his mother is praying
for evil to cease its possession. That she reinvents the world
on the page and then stages it. These kids swirl
in cutbacks, media overload, starved affections, and poetry.
They swear and swagger and smile metal.
than Lazarus rising. And they do—they baptize
their papers in ink and wash drafts clean
with red. They highlight, spotlight, moonwalk. I mean,
But they are green and sprouting: dandelions
and dahlias, ivy, wisteria, and willows.
loam, sand, silt, clay. The clay models itself
into familiarity. Into the expression
of understanding that’s unique to each child.
to see them as payment and value-added.
But I am an English teacher.
Numbers have never been my thing.
There is no salt in our water.
things like gnats or mosquitoes—for being teachers.
It makes me hunger for Biblical
retribution. And I will be an insect…
in a plague of cicadas. We will be dressed as
a river of blood, a torrent of chant and noise.
There is no poem for this fight, for watching
the mild mannered lose their voices
from screaming chants, feet raw with marching.
Hands, callused for chalk, will be rubbed with new blisters
from holding signs.
so our students will not be nameless, faceless scores
in a city that hunts them for statistics.
We will be living the politics.
Not writing a poem.
I invite you (and ask you) to stand with me,