Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One Shot: Skipping Stones, Chained around Your Ankles

We'd sling stones hoping for a
kiss kiss kiss skip across
the surface but some were worth less
zing~plop, the water swallowing
them up, slipping down to
the bottom

& growing up around water
i never really thought about drowning,
until the day i was clowning around
with one of my parents friends
in the deep end and caught him with my
foot on his way up after a dive and he
held me under to teach me a lesson,
and see the fear in my eyes?

but that day, as my lungs
ached for air, whistling screams
of each cilia, fingers grasping
for purchase as my world
faded to blackness...this is
the moment i understood...watching
someone i knew and trusted, doing
what he thought best for me,
hold me under, then i knew
exactly what it felt like...

to be in your first year of high school
and know how to catch a football (well
kinda) but look at a page of words and
not make sense of them, passed on because,
no one knows what to do with you and if
they accept your diagnosis they have to
allocate money for an aide out of an
already cut the budget where teachers
have to pay for pencils so kids can
fill in the bubbles on the standardized
tests that determine if their school gets
to stay open, or they get to keep their
job, out of their barely above welfare wages,

leaving this boy stolen from
feeling dumb, stupid, and
worth less like that damn rock
on the bottom of the lake
silently choked out by
the ones that are supposed
to care for him, but all they are
concerned with is skipping rocks
across the surface.

Yo! It's One Shot Wednesday. Time to cut the poetic wax and spin it for the blogoverse. What have you got to say? Write a poem, come join us. I will be hosting tonight, 5 PM EST...be there. Smiles.

And if you are a storyteller, yet not necessarily poetic, we are having a fun writing experiment over at One Stop right now until the doors open for OSW.

108 comments:

Barbara said...

I love how you took us from one scene to another and then linked them back. Great flow and imagery, but best of all, great job illustrating the truth.

annell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
annell said...

The depth of your understanding is amazing. And you have communicated it so well. My heart aches for the boy, he was mine. We did the best we knew how, but it wasn't enough. How similar clowning and drowning. I can hear the warning, "Stop clowning, you'll drown." Perhaps you set up the saddness with that.

slommler said...

It is like putting lipstick on a pig! It is still a pig!!!
My DIL is a teacher and struggles with all that you so eloquently wrote about. She is trying to save those that are drowning but someone is holding their foot!!!!!
Well said, Brian
Hugs
SueAnn

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Easy to see what is on your mind. Our government would appear to be broken with no thouht to what should defnitely be a priority.

TALON said...

So many learning disabilities purposely ignored...and so sad. You took me on a journey, Brian, and it was vivid and heartbreaking.

TechnoBabe said...

Being held down should never happen, in aspect of life. But in real life it does happen.

David Allen Waters said...

love the different glimpses into your life (and I still cant skip rocks...lol)

randallweiss said...

I like the rhythm and wordplay; great flow from line to line. This is a well written commentary on the tragic devaluation of learning in our culture.

Jannie Funster said...

Holy cow, it's Tuesday, you did have me thinking Wedesday for just a second. Thought I'd missed a day of life somehow. Whew. :)

But enough of that, this is one of your mightiest poems yet to me. They are actually going to close some public schools here in Austin and I can't imagine it.

Really really AWESOME poem!!

xo

Sue said...

My daughter has an auditory processing disorder, and she was one of the fortunate ones. Uncommonly so. The public school in our area actually gives learning disabled kids the love and assistance they need.

As a result, she has done well and emerged with her self esteem intact.

I am grateful and wish it could be the same for everyone.

"/

Corinna said...

Very nice simile. Sad, and oh so true.

Shadow said...

you manage the most extraordinary twists with your words...

Bossy Betty said...

You've really hit on something here. I went to school with many people who were in the same position. I heart breaks thinking of them now...

budh.aaah said...

Brian..this is heartbreaking. Yes I know now how it feels to be taught a lesson again and again and yet again - for everything in life. And the tender soul of a child might wilt..when it needs most the nourishment and security oh a well placed trust....

Daniel said...

Another gem filled with images and points to flood the mind. Loved it.

nance marie said...

you put up mirrors and paint pictures

rosaria said...

Ah, truth is ugly too.

Nezzy said...

As a retired educator your eloquent words spoke to me loud and clear. To top it off my students were strugglin' under the best of circumstances, I taught Special Ed.

Again, a wonderfully written poem.

God bless and have an amazin' day! :o)

Patricia Caspers said...

Perfect ending image of the students as skipping stones. Your poem speaks so eloquently of our broken system-- and the students' broken trust. Thanks.

Helen said...

I had a visceral reaction to this beautiful piece ... and I thank you for writing it.

Little Ms Blogger said...

I echo Technobabe's comment.

Titanium said...

This should be printed, laminated and permanently adhered to the desk of every principal, vice principal, administrator and pencil-pushing legislator in this country.

tracy said...

This is very profound, Brian. And it brought back so many memories - like skipping rocks (I could never do it and still can't) and being asked when I was in 7th grade to read tests to the 8th grade son of the town's wealthiest citizen. I never understood why they were more concerned with passing the kid than teaching him to read.

Claudia said...

such a sad truth and i just love how you get there and how you weave this together - the fear of drowning hit me most.. i have seen this fear in the eyes of some kids who do not fit into the system..

Lolamouse said...

Wow Brian. This one took my breath away (literally!) I felt like I was that little boy drowning. It was so vivid. Brought tears to my eyes. You speak a sad truth in this one. We either skim the surface or we try to drown the truth. Either way, we avoid that which is inconvenient.

signed...bkm said...

sad what kids consider as joking, I do not like water...so the fear of drowning has always been there...being set back in life for reasons we do not understand are so difficult for youth...my son is dsylexic...never understanding it for years...he was always set aside ...he has long overcome it and accepts its...we are all beautiful...nice weaving of words...bkm

ayala said...

sad...awesome and powerful! :)

Eva Gallant said...

Wow. That was powerful. It left me breathless.

happygirl said...

I wish I knew what it felt like to not know and to know I don't know. And, that was a crappy friend of the parents.

Kaylen said...

LOVE this one!!!!!

Heather said...

very well said...this paints a sad picture in my mind...have a great rest of the day! :)

Mom said...

Sad to say that the picture you paint is way too realistic. As an educator I wish it could be different. The government officials who make the policies often have never walked a day in the shoes of a child needing help or of a teacher crying out for the support needed for these special children.

hedgewitch said...

For some it's a constant struggle it seems, of never ending goals, goalposts always moving, rocks carried on the back, pushed up the hill only to roll back. And the parallel between your cruel adult minder and the state is all too real. It does what it thinks best, one size fits all, whatever costs less.

Anthony Desmond said...

you're speaking the truth through that boy in this poem... nice

anthonynorth said...

I suppose it's a matter of fitting. Any blemish and you don't. Great poem.

Elaine said...

That was...quite brilliant. Nuff said!

LauraX said...

oh brian, my heart is breaking with this one.

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

perfect, Brian.
and I was one of those kids.

tolbert said...

What a description, skipping stones to becoming one...the drowning feeling while being held down, the look at priorities in the school system...so well written Brian, another quality work.

Natasha said...

I had a feeling this was going to be one of those writes that makes me forsake all others as I rant and rage and have my say. I've seen so many PUSHED through an already overstressed system, forsaken for the sake of numbers, forgotten, ignored and pushed into corners...not quite bad enough to warrant the extra attention (please note sarcastic undertones)or being outcast due to behavioural disorders that are unmanagable!? And I have seen these same people, grow to become amazing muscians (singer at heart/they be my peers)amazing writers, amazing entrepreneurs, but I will tell you, most are also very skilled at holding their breath. Another powerful write, Brian, and my apologies for once again spitting out my thoughts, unrequested :) I'll stop now...

Vicki Lane said...

So sadly true. I could weep...

Helena said...

Impressive, frightening and overwhelming...Brian, so well done...

♥ ஆ

Asobime said...

Wow.....this is quite the poem. Excellent. Almost epic.

Great flow, captivating read.

Lady Nyo

betweenhearts75 said...

Wow, this has a deeper effect than I expected today Brian, you bring it from the surface to the sinking and then to this interesting level of understanding. Well done!

pandamoniumcat said...

Wow...I used to work in Special Ed as and aide. It's so true the governments only like to skip stones across the surface. This is a marvelous poem, it really brought you in and then spat it back at you. Great work!

lori said...

Wow, so vivid. I can feel the ache for air, and such a great segue into the entrapment both students and teachers feel in our schools today.
Answers are soon to come quickly. Excellent write.

Pauline said...

"the ones who are supposed to care for him" - with supposed to being the key words, but what is a child when compared to profit?

As always, your skill with words and the poetic form is remarkable.

Leslie said...

i really like the circular flow of this. from the skipping stone, to the (near) drowning, to the hopelessness of the child passed on without being helped, the teachers struggling in a broken system, and back to the sinking stone. very powerful.

versebender said...

Drowning in an inept bureaucracy.... victim of bean counters. True, but also very sad. Compelling is the best word for it. vb

G-Man said...

No One Left Behind Eh Brian?
Rockin One Shot....

Sandi McBride said...

This piece left a cold spot in the center of my chest that just would not warm. To realistic not to be true, to painful not to hurt.
Sandi

ps
picture of Dudley and one of his kittens finally decided to make it's appearance.

ACEBiggaveli said...

love this

Greyscale Territory said...

So many kinds of drowning in this poem...physical and a range of mental, emotional and spiritual oes! And yet, the poem is not ponderous...it skips along like a stone across the water...letting the reader enjoy the journey!

So very beautiful! I sighed when the poem concluded as if letting go a friend!

Nomar Knight said...

Awesome One Shot! Yep, barely above welfare wage. And even though we're forced to teach so they can pass a test, the gleam in their eyes when they finally get it makes it all worthwhile. Loved the individual scenes. Great imagery!

lynnaima said...

"skipping stones"-skimming the surface. I liked the threading as well. Thanks for the visit!

rhymetime(aka Pat) said...

Yep now a days your lucky if you get an eraser with your pencil
Heck be lucky to get a utensil
To eat your lunch
Or brunch
Really liked how you worked in the deep
Stuggling a whole heep
To get back to the surface but alas
It can't be done if someone or something is weighing down your ass..lol
Another great read
Now on to tashtoo's feed

Andy said...

Brian,
You write with such depth of emotion & passion that your words stir us all.
Thank you for sharing this sad, but truthful topic.

Ann Grenier said...

Raw truth, sadness, frustration, sympathy, heartache. If only we could fix it. Thank you Brian, and for visiting my place as well.

Josh Hoyt said...

Great imagery and well connected. I enjoyed your use of words that made me think about what was going on.

Glynn said...

Three memories - skipping stones, a pool lesson, high school football -- all colliding together and creating the same kind of memory. Well done, Brian.

Pat said...

This one gave me the chills since I am afraid of water....I felt your fear. And funny how fear is fear just the same, no matter what the circumstances.

sonny said...

you make me think brian...
u make me think...and reflect on scenarios and things and thoughts...

my dad had this weird way of teaching us how to swim...he'd ask me to jump and say i'll hold you..i'll catch you...and when i'd jump..he wouldn't...i's splatter...cough..come up for air...kick my legs n arms furiously...and somehow...i learned how not to drown...

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

I felt that fear and the realization of what coming up for air can be like. You capture realness so very well, Brian.

Cloudia said...

Prolific!




Warm Aloha from Waikiki


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marousia said...

The final lines are sheer perfection - the image of skipping stones leaves such a melancholy taste

Pranavam Ravikumar a.k.a. Kochuravi said...

Great points written. I read twice as usual to get the essence. Thanks for sharing... Have a nice day!

Ocean Girl said...

What mean person was that?

Aquarius63 said...

A sad reality so well put, great imagery.

Anita.

Valerie said...

I had a similar underwater experience... not nice! I got it wrong the other day, Brian, this is the one that's best ever.

Fireblossom said...

Yeesh. Open water and I are not friends unless I'm in a boat!

Alan Burnett said...

In some ways it skips like the stone and then sinks into the depths of tragedy.

Katherine said...

Hi Brian... sorry I've not been by in a while. I have just been so very preoccupied with life.
Sadly being held back or held down happens in so many different enviroments, not just in schools. Experiencing this can be completely saturating and in some cases debilitating.
My 2 eldest sons experienced learning difficulties in school and if it hadn't been for the fact that they had a mother that was aware of the fact & able to help, they would most definitely have fell through the cracks. As usual my friend Brian this was so very well written.

River said...

Brian this definitely one of my favorites of yours. The imagery, story, truth, and your connection is right on. :

gautami tripathy said...

I am a teacher and I relate to this. Trying to save and succeed in that are vastly different. Sometimes trying our best just isn't enough..

finding dreams for you

Lorraine said...

cruel...this is not the way to teach a child prudence, it isn't...and they'll have enough lessons in their lifetimes that will break them often by family, mostly by strangers, don't need to be taught mistrust by one you trust...there will be enough strangers to teach that...
WOW what writing

Colleen said...

"but all they are
concerned with is skipping rocks
across the surface."

That just cuts right through to the heart of ...everything...

Why are we all so satisfied to live and love like this?

wolfsrosebud said...

So many wounds to work past. It's a wonder we turn-out so well. The pain makes us better writers.

Celestial Dreamz said...

it's like a journey ... a journey through some sad truth ... thanks for sharing.

blueviolet said...

This one makes me really sad.

Sam!! said...

Nice n powerful writing..thanks for sharing Brian..:))

Take care,
Sam

the walking man said...

I hope every American who sat out the last election and is disgusted enough to sit out the next one reads this. The dumb kid isn't in the class room it's them who do not vote for fairness in life, it's them holding the drowning one under the water.

Joanna said...

You're breaking my heart! Glad the skipping of stones, pass from one generation to the next and you have become one of those who care.

Marcus Goodyear said...

What I like best here is the idea that we tend to stay on the surface of things. The poem calls us to go into the depths, but it also warns us that doing so is more dangerous than we usually admit to ourselves.

Kim Nelson said...

Great tapestry, Brian. You drew one thread right up to another, then beautifully wove them together. And the truth told in the piece is undeniable. Illustrative write in so many ways.

Corbie said...

wow are you popular! I enjoyed this poem, I was taken on a journey however painful it was. I get the feeling that you are wise from experience and I thank you for sharing.

Eric 'Bubba' Alder said...

Sheesh!
Got enough comments here, Brian?
(LOL!)

Very melacholy and whistful.

I especially like the "kiss kiss kiss" of the skipping stones - a most delightful description for one of my favorite activities!

Barbara said...

I went from happy memories skipping stones to anger at the man to angst regarding what's happening to our world and the helpless ones in it.

Margaret said...

Yes, the good 'ol public school system. Too bad the government has to get WAY too involved - "No Child Left Behind" means they are all left behind. (don't get me started as my rant is even longer than yours) I'm homeschooling two of my girls next year - so they can learn at their own (faster) pace... AND travel!

Mona said...

How true is that! Formal education is like that sometimes...

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

OMG, This really really touched me. Thanks so much Brian!

The Fool said...

Beautiful. Reminded me of the Pink Flod song 'Brick in the Wall' and another one by Jules Gary 'Mad Mad world'. Everyone thinks the school system is defunct in their country and good everywhere else. But seems like it is broken up all over the world. Nice poem that makes you think.

Goofball said...

we really need to fix our educations systems on both sides of the world so the needs of the children become more important than the budgets

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Hi! Brian...
It seems only the very privilege have all the opportunities when it comes to education.
Unfortunately, it do seems as those with the least get the less attention and assistance in this world. Where as on the other hand, Those with the most...
Thanks, for sharing!
DeeDee ;-(

Luke Prater said...

repetition, onomatopoeia... and solid statement = great poetry. I'm a griper quite often but I find little complaint here.

Cheers Brian

Luke @ WordSalad

Belinda said...

Love this compassionate one shot, Brian. I'm sure it sounded great in theory when Congress passed NCLB. But have to find an alternative if we are to beleive in our public school system again.

Linda said...

So much or real life and of life lessons in this poem. Sometimes life is hard and we just get through it the best way we can.

violet said...

Powerful memory. I was quite agog as you drew it out to your conclusion.

arspoetica said...

You do paint vividly with words, Brian. Love the sounds in that first verse, they really conjure the skipping of stones. And then the poem grows: deeper and deeper and... ...beautiful write of some ugly truths.

yellowhousecafe said...

very nice write..you take us on an ugly roller-coaster of truth.. and, man, how I dug the last three lines, fab ending ~

mairmusic said...

Woah-- a big circle, covering a lot of territory. V.nice!

Olivia said...

That is a big glimpse of the system there..
If only a few different way are developed for the special ones- instead of naming those as disabilities!

very well captured..

Magpie said...

I almost got lost in the connection between the two. They kinda have a different feel to me. Love the first paragraph!

D.C. Lutz said...

hell yes, Brian.
This was great. Loved the purpose of the path this piece took. Leading me around as if I was lost then SMACK stops me dead and tells me how it is.
Just. Freakin. Great

Lucy Fur Leaps said...

Big message and big metaphor- can almost feel the water!

Liza Ursu said...

"leaving this boy stolen from
feeling dumb, stupid, and
worth less"
I really like the way you wrote that.
surface dwellers, surface cleaners
who skip stones, and if some sink, so be it. just some words that came to mind after reading this great piece Brian.
Thanks for sharing.

Syd said...

I had a few challenged kids on the trip recently. Their excitement over the ocean was awesome. I think that those who work with the special needs kids are angels.

Sheila Moore said...

If only we were really honest about our motives instead of succumbing to meaningless rationalizations. Nice one shot