Tuesday, October 9, 2012

OpenLinkNight: a Public education

chalk wall, Charlottesville, VA


i am not a cow
i am not a cow
i am not a cow

scrolls down my screen, a cut & paste
job if i've ever seen one, but a point
made for mOO-ing

during the pledge of allegiance
the  difference between freedom of speech
& the alphabet---as sung by Aretha Franklin

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

most days we start with a walk, rewinding
the tape, reminding him who he is & the need
not to make a fool of himself for attention---
this morning

damp & cold clings to us, like a cat stretching
its paws, as we cut between buildings

'i have detention again tomorrow.'

'why's that?' our footfalls click
on the sidewalk, off bricks

'This teacher she...' always
them first, someone else's fault & i don't doubt
they played a part but

'and you?' i let sit in the bowl of silence,

a centerpiece of plastic fruit, indigestible
at best, oft pondered as to purpose, a curse
we passed to this generation by not taking

O-W-N-E-R-S-H-I-P

(where's Gallagher---when you
need him?)

'i did this,' he screws his face up, waving
spastic hands in an apt caricature

& i nod,
not to laugh,

& know
better than to ask what his parents thought

students watch us out windows, intent
on things other than preachers in pulpits
to English or His-story

'ok, let's
focus on today,' and we break down
the basics of building kingdoms on beaches

as the breakers roll in
as the breakers roll in
as the breakers roll in

in ever crumbling cut&Paste statistics, reTurning
once more to class.

It is OpenLinkNight @ dVerse Poets, where we get all kinds of jiggy with poetry, so find your beat and dance to it...ok that might be scary, so just write a poem and bring it @ 3 pm EST.

106 comments:

Rene Foran said...

'ok, let's
focus on today,' and we break down
the basics of building kingdoms on beaches

that's just awesome
I'm gonna be rapping that all day :)

and I cut and pasted the quote
just sayin'...smiles

Rene Foran said...

Dude? I'm first?...that's apocalyptical shizz right there

Shadow said...

there are so so many lines i love here... "damp & cold clings to us, like a cat stretching
its paws" and also "ok, let's focus on today", lovely piece this, Brian!

SueAnn Lommler said...

Fabulous....I love the plastic fruit...pretty hard to swallow and I can feel his struggle to digest it!!
Ha
Love how it is always someone else's fault!! That is real!!
Hugs
SueAnn

Mary said...

So true....ownership is the key. Always easier to blame someone else, but....

And yes, focus on today. Start again. Well thought out poem today, Brian.

izzy said...


Beauteous-I am so glad you remind them to keep it in today- and own their side of things! thanks.

Reggie said...

Nice post.

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

Day by day is the way to go. I hope he matures soon!

Grace said...

Respect and ownership...and to focus on today...I love the lessons for today ~

Have a wonderful day Brian ~

DJan said...

Evocative and painful at the same time. Good poem, Brian. You were having fun when you wrote it, I think.

manicddaily said...

You are so good at telling story in midst of poem. A nice one here--I love the feel of the face be made and your trying not to laugh. Ah the plastic fruit. K.

Anna Montgomery said...

'we break down the basics of building kingdoms on beaches' and ownership is so important to gaining self-respect. Beautifully done!

Steve E said...

Plastic fruit is one of my choices for "top line" today--there are many.

I had forgotten at how young an age we learn that we are never to blame. It I always the other peep!

IMAGINE--as recent as Jan. 2012 at my accident scene (where I had made a left turn in front of oncoming traffic :-(
I found myself (to the police) blaming the other Peeps for "going too fast" --what an IDIOT...me!

Another 5-Star OLN contribution, Brian!

Jenny said...

Brian....you are so good!!! Focas, focas on today....sadly respect and ownership went out the window of some homes! Well written.

Stephanie said...

Ownership!! If only all children were taught this message:)

mrs mediocrity said...

fabulous... all those perfect details in this story that breaks my heart, a little...
and you are so right about the ownership, i see this curse, as you say, everywhere i look.

you played a sense of hope quite perfectly off the probability that tomorrow will be more of the same.

Monkey Man said...

another great one...and charlottesville is one of my all time fav towns anywhere

Sandi McBride said...

wow...you must have some restless nights with all that great poetry rattling around in your head...not just decently done, done to a turn
Sandi

Daydreamertoo said...

You are a wonderful person to teach Brian because you have usually 'been there, done that and worn the T shirt too'
Chloe always blames everyone else, if her marks are low it's because 'that' teacher marks everyone low, never looks to herself for the problem. I love all of this read. It is so full of sharing wisdom, compassion and caring. :)

Jan Mader said...

I love the way your words carry such a message and are playful at the same time. Ownership...what a great concept!

Buddah Moskowitz said...

This is a warm and wise piece, loved this, esp the resolution:

"'ok, let's
focus on today,' and we break down
the basics of building kingdoms on beaches"

That's the kind of adult I'm trying to be. Thanks, bro.

PattiKen said...

"Let's focus on today." Those are the wisest words I've heard (read?) in quite a while. I need a sampler over my desk.

Ruth said...

so right about who passed the curse, & i know i need that reminder from time to time... but with enough of the type of gentle guidance you illustrate here i think this generation will turn out ok. i like the way thrice-repeated lines at the beginning & end sandwich the lesson between, the spelling out of those all important words & "break[ing] down
the basics of building kingdoms on beaches"

Gloria said...

Nice poem Brian
Have a nice day!

hedgewitch said...

The repetition here is killer--seemingly mindless, mimicking natural forces yet unnatural when divided from them...too many great lines to quote back, but my favorite turn here is 'and you?'--and you show that it's harder to get many adults to take ownership than a kid trying to dance on the pinhead of self while the culture crashes all around him.

ayala said...

Respect and ownership that's where the healing starts...love the lines..like a cat stretching...and His-story but most of all the message. Great write, Brian.

Poet Laundry said...

"a centerpiece of plastic fruit, indigestible
at best, oft pondered as to purpose, a curse
we passed to this generation by not taking

O-W-N-E-R-S-H-I-P"

...love it, great truth. And the pic too..."Jen was here."

happygirl said...

This teacher, she... It's ALWAYS someone else's fault. Good one today, Brian.

Annmarie Pipa said...

a reflection of society

rosaria williams said...

So much to love about this.
The imagery, building kingdom on beaches as ...,tells the bigger story, how each day is another big effort.

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

Yes...we really can focus on today...and do better.

I used to think that ownership was taught...and in many ways it IS but then some...just by nature...by heredity seem to be able to "pass the buck" without thought...without notion to the consequences either to themselves or others...

kaykuala said...

a curse we passed to
this generation by not taking
O-W-N-E-R-S-H-I-P

The malady that one fails to strategise in time. The problem lingers on! Nicely Brian!

Hank

Beachanny said...

Interesting the things you turn to symbols, the way you stack your symbols...repetition pointing in the direction of repeated actions, repeated actions of words and of behavior, repetitions in the way those things must continually be addressed and then your parameter spreads taking in more territory both physical and emotional. The lesson lies in both and in the repetitions. Such instinctive understanding of what causes and what changes within and without. Brilliant, really.

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

"most days we start with a walk, rewinding
the tape, reminding him who he is & the need
not to make a fool of himself for attention---
this morning"


Hi! Brian...
Thanks, for sharing the image and your very descriptive poetic words: "damp & cold clings to us, like a cat stretching its paws, as we cut between buildings" as you share a moment between...
deedee :)

Andrew Kreider said...

I think I like this kid! Oh for every young wandering soul to have a mentor or two, to help them navigate that fine line of self-expression. Let's just focus on today, indeed.
Great!

jackie dick said...

That repitition reminds me of the way I learned the multiplication table. Mindless, yet I learned it. // Taking responsibility for one's action...hard to come by..Great poem, Brian!

Susan Daniels said...

What a funny kid...and what a wonderful poem. Really liked it!

Timoteo said...

Lucky kid to have you as a mentor.

Robert Gibson said...

I loved this ... the teachable moment stuck out to me, maybe 'coz of my own kids. I loved "'and you?' i let sit in the bowl of silence.."

Yeah always 'them first' but taking ownership ... this sunk in. :) Well done :)

Carrie Burtt said...

Your teaching reflects in your writing and I am sure youir writing reflects in your teaching....love this Brian!

poemsofhateandhope.com said...

There's a wise message in this Brian, about teaching respect, and ownership, but helping one to reach ones own conclusions ....the silence and pauses in this are palpable....you could feel the weight as the child reflects....some life lessons in here for sure

Tara Miller said...

Ownership and respect go well together in this world. A good lesson for our youth to learn for sure. I like focusing on today and how you help him to break it down....and he knows

Pat Hatt said...

Through each day
Take things that display
And show them all
Taking ownership at ones hall
Sure is the way to be
Instead of blaming little old me haha

vivinfrance said...

This has the feel of a universal truth, as ever presented in an original style that could only be Brian!

Victoria said...

So good. You and the poem!

Kimolisa said...

Your poems always make me feel good, especially when it involves kids. A lot of lessons are in this poem and I appreciate that. Awesome poem.

lori mcclure said...

Favorite part?

'ok, let's
focus on today,' and we break down
the basics of building kingdoms on beaches

as the breakers roll in
as the breakers roll in
as the breakers roll in

Wish we could see you in action. If the kids don't realize what they have in you now? They will one day :)

Ginny Brannan said...

A lot of reasons kids play for attention and land in detention--not the least of which could be problems at home, hence appreciate:
"& know
better than to ask what his parents thought"

To have someone to actually talk to him, help him figure things out--everyone should have a mentor like that when they need one. Loved this line:
"'ok, let's
focus on today,'
Keeping someone grounded, focussed, there is a special place in heaven for those who go that extra mile!
Love your stories, Brian. Helping us see the everyday, one person at a time!

Mama Zen said...

"and we break down
the basics of building kingdoms on beaches"

Damn, that is heartbreaking, Brian. Powerful write.

marousia said...

Love it ... so many vibrant images- I would love to know what happens when "ok, let's focus on today" takes this...

Mark Kerstetter said...

For some reason I thought of this line from a Lou Reed song: "growing up in public with your pants down again." In many ways we're all always growing up in public.

I really like this part:

"'and you?' i let sit in the bowl of silence,
a centerpiece of plastic fruit"


Pat said...

A mistake many parents make - teaching kids to own up to their mistakes. We want to let our kids have more than we ever did; we want to do everything for them. Then they can't learn from their mistakes.

Wolfsrosebud said...

so many lessons and not enough teachers

festivalking said...

I love how care free your poems can be Brian! Nice one :)

Daniel said...

I love the spirit of observation and listening without judgment. Very nice.

henry clemmons said...

I hear ya. I like the way you fed it to us, always fun to read out loud and pick up your steps and feel what you be saying as I hear it. Very nice.

Adura Ojo said...

Respect and ownership go a long way. This generation have a lot to learn. (God, I'm beginning to sound like my mum some 20 years ago!)

Insightful piece, Brian. Love the way it was put together.

daydreamerdreams said...

Excellent write Brian! and I would say that even if I hadn't spent my afternoon in the Principal's office of my son's school! :)

I love your writing style!

farmlady said...

You poems always ring so true.
There are some kids that don't have a parent that walks along with them.
They find it easier to blame everyone but themselves. They are scared, angry and acting out. They survive on manipulation and deception.. when all they want is a firm foothold and guidance... and love (or at least respect).

"ok, let's
focus on today,' and we break down
the basics of building kingdoms on beaches."
This is an amazingly beautiful line.

my heart's love songs said...

"let's focus on today"

can't give/get much better advice than that. great write, as always!
loved the beginning lines, moo... i mean, too. {smile}

Joan Barrett Roberts said...

Brian,
Your poetry is a strong story of teaching our kids!

I loved your "back to the basics" line:

-- "the basics of building kingdoms on beaches"

Let us not be satisfied with just the basics but let us work to build something totally new!

Thanks!

Myrna R. said...

Some piercing lines in this Brian. I know where your heart is with these kids. Hope there are more of you around, to build kingdoms, but on more solid ground.

This reminded me of teaching school-inner city N.Y. What a challenge, but a gift too.
Never give up Brian. Please.

Cloudia said...

keep building that castle by the shore, teacher man



Aloha from Waikiki,

Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >



adan said...

touching in a calm caring way seldom seen in writings -

"let's
focus on today" -

how else could it be ;-)

nice nice job brian, thanks!

emmett wheatfall said...

Brian, you knocked it out the park with this one. Any reference to Aretha Franklin "The Queen of Soul" is a sure fire winner. I love your contextualization in this piece. Cheers!

Other Mary said...

I've lived this one Brain. I used to teach middle/high school special ed. back when it was called special ed. Love this one.

Natasha Head said...

We all know the squeaky wheel gets the grease...and kids figure it out real quick. Sometimes, one like you hears the squeak, takes the time to acknowledge, buildup...other times, it continues to be ignored, and another one slips thru the cracks. You have set a stage that engulfs the senses...and a write that engulfs the heart..and on that note...this wanna-be is hitting the hay. The world needs more you, Poet...hope you stretch!

thecourseofourseasons.com said...

A wonderful moving poem - love the kingdoms built on beaches. K

colleen said...

That plastic fruit (great analogy) gets me every time. The thought of Gallagher makes me smile.

C Rose said...

Enjoyed the distraction that guides such a wonderful lesson of truth. Love to read this aloud, very fun roll ~ Rose

wood said...

... so, not much has changed since i was in school (or, sort-of in school). your poems are always so clever in the telling.

hey, so i take it then that you found a new job? if so then congrats! i had a feeling you'd land on your feet.

as always man, a pleasure to read

Sabio Lantz said...

"'and you?' i let sit in the bowl of silence,"

Silence is hard to hold but such a good teacher.

flaubert said...

It is all about ownership and seems that has escaped many these days. Nice write and I enjoyed the repetition.

Pamela

awakenedwords said...

I am continually amazed at what you do, and how you get it into words, and how many of these kids are out there that we never notice....

Arron Shilling said...

Hey Brian

one-day I will have to film myself whilst reading one of your poems, or rather, acting one of your poems out loud. I must look kooky. I do look kooky. I do have a bloody good time though …

Great to the air and to the ear.

Chucking out some of these lines today was a pleasure and the message: loud and clear!

All the best Brian.

Kim Nelson said...

that child... that challenging child... you help us to understand him a wee bit better as your lead teaches him and teaches us.

Sheila said...

nice story - I am one to hide behind my humor, I guess we all do at times. I would have had a hard time not smiling at his gestures, too :)

Claudia said...

breaking down the basics of building kingdoms on beaches...i love that you help him focus, that you take him for a walk and talk with him..great poem brian..i like the aretha franklin part, the damp and cold like a cat stretching paws...nah..i just like everything...smiles...and sorry that im so terribly late...smiles

Dana Dampier said...

Thank you for letting us take a peek at your day!
I hope that child can find some peace within his self.

flipside records said...

"a cut & paste
job if i've ever seen one, but a point
made for mOO-ing" ... I am cracking up over this!

"reminding him who he is & the need
not to make a fool of himself for attention" ... A smart way to open a day.

I really like this: "we break down
the basics of building kingdoms on beaches"

flipside records said...

Nice double meaning in your title, as well. By counseling him in front of all those peering out windows, you are doing a bit of counseling with all of them by showing them that there is always someone who cares. Perhaps more will swing by your office.

Good work, sir.

Zouxzoux said...

A little life moment that may stick with him forever. Smart guy. :)

Sue said...

You do good work, Brian.

Here

and there.

=)

Fred Rutherford said...

love the images you chose here. The cat, the cow, the bricks, the music…very strong. The dialogue is tight, really carries it for me. Great read Brian.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Respect and ownership..and taking it one day at a time...that's the only way to go, and not just for the attention seeker...such a spare,lovely, well-crafted poem

pandamoniumcat said...

Great read, much of this could relate to many other areas of our world at present, with respect and taking ownership.

anthonynorth said...

Powerful and meaningful - especially the plastic fruit.

Dave King said...

It's all here: the angst, the respect, ownership, building on sand - even the plastic fruit. A microcosm of the world today, heartbreak and all!

Steve King said...

Seems I'm having trouble posting for some reason--ownership, responsibility, these are the hardest concept to internalize (still are sometimes! ) wonderful use of these familiar details. Great teaching in here.

Shawn said...

Respect and ownership often (perhaps not often) fail when getting "in trouble". When they do well, get an A or make a goal Ownership is always present.

Your poem paints the struggle nicely. Well done.

Eva Gallant said...

So true for so many people! It's always someone else's fault.

I love that my sister Jenny has become a big fan of yours. We had lunch together yesterday (she lives an hour and a half away) and she kept saying how much she loves your writing! She obviously has good taste.

Tatius T. Darksong said...

"The basics of building kingdoms on beaches" like that line
Good write....

vbreverb said...

''and you?' i let sit in the bowl of silence,

a centerpiece of plastic fruit, indigestible
at best, oft pondered as to purpose, a curse
we passed to this generation by not taking

O-W-N-E-R-S-H-I-P"
I read this as a declaration of shared responsibilty for the reluctance of today's children to take ownership of their actions--they learned it by example from their parents. A lot of meat in this poem--many points to ponder.

Zuzana said...

So, on this one I got completely sidetrack when reading the word "mOOing".;) Did you ever MOO?;)
I did. MultiObjectOriented.;) I am still a member of LambdaMoo, the biggest MOO of them all, hehe.;)
Yes, I am a nerd.;)
Have a great week dear friend.;)
xoxo

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Oh Brian you cannot know how this resonates.

One of my sons would make-a-fool-of-himself-for-attention and someone else was always-to-blame for his faults.

Life is never cut-and-dried and children are as much as nature-v-nature and someone in school (like you) needs to guide them down the (right) road...

Sadly the partnership between parents and teachers is lacking in British schools now...

Anna :o[

Rachel Hoyt said...

Love your description of the Pledge of Allegiance. :)

Laurie Kolp said...

You are such a great influence on those kids, and I agree with you on what's wrong with that generation. I had to laugh at (where's Gallagher---when you
need him?)b/c I actually saw him live once and boy was it a mess.

Alice Audrey said...

Isn't messing with the teachers part of being a kid? It should be part of their training to deal with it.

Marbles in My Pocket said...

There are still some teachers out there who care about the kids; you appear to be one of them. Great poem, dripping with terrific insight. Proud to know you, Brian!

jane hewey said...

besides how easily this poem flows and reveals, i really like your ending. as the breakers roll in...repeated. grateful for all you do to inspire students, Brian.

FrankandMary said...

The pressure, what can I add to 100 comments? :) I think there are small redemptions in this one. Oh, the culture of blame. ~Mary

Cheryl said...

So much to learn and love about this.

Goofball said...

good coaching!


and we never doubted you were a cow by the way

Syd said...

Ownership of responsibility is something that is rare these days.

poeticlicensee said...

Look around & ye shall see, many old guys blaming me

And you & she

And everyone else
multiplied by three

As always your poetry
causes thought extensively

Sometimes confusingly
Tee! Hee!

poeticlicensee said...

Look around & ye shall see, many old guys blaming me

And you & she

And everyone else
multiplied by three

As always your poetry
causes thought extensively

Sometimes confusingly
Tee! Hee!