Tuesday, December 18, 2012

OpenLinkNight: statistics (in US History)

d'town Lynchburg, VA

'because all the crap in the street,'
he answers, to why
they built subways beneath & we

just left the slums,
immigrants with inadequate plumbing,
coming to America, falling
in with the factories, for a place
to live & food

bucketing bathroom waste
to the nearest open window
(Look out below!) it's
hard to keep a straight face,
it makes sense, but no---

though it does wake up the nappers
all our laughter, red mark on their heads
impressed by arms used as pillows
looking round like 'what'd i miss?'
the next Picasso, two seats over
drawing stick figure pick up trucks

on the PO'or end of the county,
our smart boards use chalk---a quarter
absent, out hunting to feed families,
another ambivalent, already
knowing their destiny's local, one
skating thru & the last,

laughing with me, because honestly
it makes sense

but will never make government statistics
nor answer the standards of learning test

It's OpenLinkNight @ dVerse Poets - bring out your poems, or just read a few - drop in after the doors open at 3 PM EST.

93 comments:

Kelvin S.M. said...

..aww... i hate remembering issues like these... for it just gives me additional disappointment for the things that are mostly ignored than prioritized... def voice Brian...

SueAnn Lommler said...

What a bleak and sorrowful existence. It is hard to believe that this was/is!
Hugs
SueAnn

Elsie The Writer said...

This reminds me of living overseas and what we took for granted when we travelled to far from our base or tourist locations. Well written.

the walking man said...

It isn't a history very far removed from is it, and one we are destined to repeat until we decide to educate, treat and formulate a new set of priorities.

Valerie said...

Too much is ignored by those who should be very much aware.

Tabor said...

A universal story I am thinking that really does not change with time. (Glad you got the mail.)

Lolamouse said...

Too bad the SOL tests don't give credit for answers that make sense but only for approved answers, no? They reward kids for spitting out standardized answers and then we complain when they can't think on their own.

manicddaily said...

It's very hard to make things feel relevant to kids, I think. We are all used to entertainment. (And good to be funny and engaged.)

Certainly teaching to the test not an answer. I think having a sense that things matter would help. But that's pretty hard to instill.

I love the red marks you describe of the would-be sleepers.

kaykuala said...

Sad to think that basic needs are still luxuries to some. But the tenacity to survive is just amazing given the life of deprivations.

Hank

Daniel said...

Good piece today my friend. Have a great day.

Mary said...

Ha, I suppose lots of REAL facts never reach the surface.....and some reasons we can ONLY surmise!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Valerie says it so succintly, too much is indeed ignored. I love poems like this, for they bring important issues to the forefront. Thank you Brian.

izzy said...

I like the beginning explanation!
and I think I heard something surrounding horse manure- any way glad it isn't coming out windows anymore! PHEW!

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah is sad indeed
For some luxaries are basic needs
With the state today
And the statitics they shout from thier mansion bay
Doesn't surprise me in any way
Should I put my stick figures on display? haha

Heaven said...

I understand these issues very well as I have seen them first hand ~ The government tests and standards sometimes doesn't make sense, but if it helps, complain and make your case heard ~

Pat said...

Instead of taking care of the issue at hand - poverty, hygiene, etc., let's "duck" the issue and dig tunnels for trains. Yep - that sound like the government to me!

Myrna R. said...

Hi Brian. Once again I'm catching up on reading your poetry.

I'm so saddened by the events in Connecticut. You wrote well about your experience that day.

I always thought you included enough detail in your poetry and described characters so well. Still it's nice to see that even someone so accomplished sets goals for improvement. The description of your son's flu, and the bubble is so precious. I really enjoyed reading that.

And this latest poem, does such a good job of describing a typical class experience. Some kids sleep, many while awake, and need those little moments of humor to help them see the reality of history.

So nice to take time to read your work.

happygirl said...

It does roll downhill, doesn't it. "Look out below!" Too bad gvt wants to help, 'cause they're so bad at it.

Mama Zen said...

It does make sense!

Natasha Head said...

And still they find the laughter...while so many, consumed by wanting what the other has, can barely bring a smile let alone a sense of contentment. The track we're racing will have us all there, I think...I would trade everything I have to see a sincere smile, to hear a REAL belly laugh that hasn't been bought on plastic. I'm one generation away from those buckets...but it was backwoods...not city slums, and it was real and it was felt and the scene was alive...crap, Poet...I'm writing another essay...loved the piece!

She Writes said...

Yeah, we cannot legislate morality, empathy, compassion... Our ability to look at the poor and look away frightens me because I have done it.

Susan said...

Exactly: an entire arena of home learning left off the map of officious intelligence.

Thank you for this poem. Reminds me of that old reading, a letter a father sent to a school about the knowledge his son has. If I find it I'll send it.

Daydreamertoo said...

It all makes sense... from nonsense.
It's all about what matters most to individuals. Going hunting to put food on the table at the PO'er end of the country or, napping at the desk and drawing stick figure pick up trucks. Priorities... And, we are not too far ahead or civilised from still throwing bathroom waste out of windows, either even if we think we are, we're still a pretty barbaric species no matter what the statistics are.

Susan said...

I thought it was shorter--but maybe I only read an excerpt before: http://geibtechforlearning.org/lvu/resources/WindwolfPlea.pdf

Claudia said...

it hasn't changed much, right..? we're still building subways because of the crap in the street and we still bucket waste to the nearest open window...and couldn't care less whom it will hit...and then we think we're so well educated and civilized...are we..? are we really..?

Wander said...

Night soil, or grey water...doesn't matter...still stinks

Alice Audrey said...

So do we put buckets from the slums on the smartboards now? So much has changed I can't keep up.

Buddah Moskowitz said...

I like that there is still laughter - a necessary perspective and palliative. I like how this began and how you weaved so many details and then you brought it home. Always love reading your words, Happy Christmas to you and yours from me and mine, Mosk

Glenn Buttkus said...

Ever the teacher, the Muse, the Master, and forever the poet, for nothing slips by you; the most mundane moment becomes illuminated & incorporated in the next Miller opus; I love your heart, brother, and def love your poetic POV.

Glenn Buttkus said...

A teacher myself, though Spec Ed, not a classroom type, I was saddened daily by the malaise and boredom our youth exhibits; that and the gnawing need for constant tech stimulation to keep the lids open. You are there, in the trenches, sir, like sending a poet to war so that we can get the real story, the rest of the story.

Laurie Kolp said...

I'm sure there's not a boring moment in your classroom... loved the ending here.

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

Making history--people's story's relevant and real--loved this Brian

Steve E said...

YOU! A reporter on what you see at work, at play, each day.

walking on the street one told me to walk the other side--they had indoor plumbing, so we crossed over and...SPLASH...splat, splat, drip, drip, drip.

It seemed Peeps were so in the habit of using the window, their plumbing kept its new sheen forever.

Someone PLEASE hand me a towel!
PEACE!

Evelyn Adams said...

"though it does wake up the nappers
all our laughter, red mark on their heads
impressed by arms used as pillows"
I love this stumbly, gorgeous strophe.

henry clemmons said...

Very nice! I do not usually view comments from others, but one compared your style to reporter, and where that may not be the case, this read like a live on the scene tele-cast of news; jumpy, energy, details, a hoint at the cause. Very edgy and good. I always like at your voice as a commentator, but today's read did remind of the reporter, after of course I read that, lol. Any way superb job once again.

Shawna said...

Oh, I like what you did in the first stanza---the way you set up the question. And your internal rhyme in the second stanza ... actually, through the whole poem.

This is my favorite part:

"the last,
laughing with me, because honestly
it makes sense"

ayala said...

Sad... great piece, Brian. You are a great teacher and poet.

Jenny Herner said...

Wonderful! A beautiful story, beautifully written with the sum of the theme "their destiny's local"! Nice!

Luke Prater said...

Sad and true and well-told... you stand for the good, Bri, I've always appreciated that about you... here again

Joan Barrett Roberts said...

Brian, excellent work. The true heroes of our day -- classroom teachers who do work in student lives. Humor also helps in the classroom. Thank you for the work you do from a fellow teacher and parent!

Joanie

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

I wish there was more hope than that.

Bradley Howington said...

I feel it, Brian. Hope you're having a lovely day, man.

marousia said...

Excellent - we are a most peculiar animal ...

RMP said...

it may not be the correct answer, but it would work as one hell of an opening paragraph grabber on an essay or writing prompt.

Marbles in My Pocket said...

Nothing changes; nothing remains nothing, and the world rages on.

awakenedwords said...

it is funny/sad how much of reality is rarely on those standardized test.

Rebecca S. said...

I agree with Claudia.
Btw, I thought of you on Friday and wondered what you would have to say...you are getting that reliable :)

Poppy said...

This could be a stark reminder, a poignant piece...heavy depths to this one, a chance to linger in my mind long after I read :) Good to read you, Merry Yuletide hon :)

jane hewey said...

we have some work to do, that's for sure. I like your next Picasso peeking through the poem. So much of what we see is guided by perception. Have a Merry Christmas, Brian.

Polly said...

America is still seen as the land of opportunity ... I love to see the different 'takes' on your wonderful country.

^.^ said...

... and then again ... there is my daughter ... has 2 bachelor degree and working on her Master's ... still she is living, well not in the streets, but on a tiny boat ... she does not live a sorrowful life though ... she loves her life and style ... who are we to judge.

Gloria said...

aah dear you always are so graphic LOL
nice piece:)

Secret Agent Woman said...

Going for the holiday cheer, aren't ya?

flaubert said...

Laughter kills a multitude of ills, Brian. Keep up the good work, both writing and teaching, my friend. Love this one.

Pamela

mrs mediocrity said...

the wisdom we find in the most unexpected of places... who would have thought, though i guess, in its way, it makes sense.
another great slice of life write!

Jennifer Dougan said...

Brian,

Fun to glimpse city life and your family life in these last two posts. Hoping your boys feel better soon, and smiling at the peaceful kitchen scene you painted.

Re your comment on my post "Rekindling Romance a Moment at a Time," that wooing and intentionality is so easy to forget to do sometimes, to our discredit and detriment. I am thankful for my man and for intentionality. Blessings to you and your family too!

Thanks for stopping by,
Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Tara Miller said...

This is rather sad to read. Makes me think of how some just settle for the history they come from and don't try to break free of the mold and create a new life, the life they want...

Cloudia said...

I love how you champion the un-quantifiable soul, Bri


Aloha from Waikiki, my Friend
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° >
> < } } ( ° >
> < 3 3 3 ( ' >

C Rose said...

There are things I am grateful to live in this "now" for...and that is one of a dreadful "then" - captured perfectly in tune with humor. Send you well ~ Rose

Heather Sawaya said...

This is what I really admire about your poetry. You take social issues and events that most people only theorize about, and you make it real, you make it accessible, you put a human face on it. Your style of writing brings the sky down to earth for the rest of us to experience. Great piece.

Arron Shilling said...

hey brian

this is a cute take bri, a deft angle and metaphor, or read as straight-up poetry - it has some great angles and internal dynamics that just click right and deliver something to think on and chew over.

cheers bro

Jennifer Dougan said...

Hi Brian,

Funny the things God talks to his people about around the world and nation, huh? Yes, I was praying for the houses as I walked too. I wish the names were on the boxes here. They aren't. May the people near you know they are loved... I'm thankful for an Abba who knows their names and their needs. We just get to walk, smile, bring random foods, and pray namelessly.

Have a good night,
Jennifer
www.jenniferdougan.com

Ginny Brannan said...

Two things came to mind when reading this. The first: my immigrant grandparents-paternal from Poland, maternal from Italy early 1900's. My Italian grandfather came through NYC then to Chicago. Imagine he lived in tenements, the ones with little to no plumbing, before he finally settled, married & raised his family in VT.

The second: it is the ones that guide and teach keep things interesting, and even amusing, that make the biggest impression on the kids. Whether they go on to higher learning or not, am betting they remember the stories shared in history class!

mywordwall said...

IT is almost hard to believe that you are talking about life in America. The images you painted are common in my third world home country - not here. I am sad that these things occur here - and in other places.

jacqueline dick said...

You certainly do engage us, force us, and rightfully so.. to look at and not away from issues that need much attention. Would that the government would look and do! Thanks, Brian!

Fred Rutherford said...

strong write Brian. I've been fascinated with statistics for a while. I actually find it quite amusing how, if taken for truth, they present just that, a historical viewpoint, possibility, odds etc…but when taking bits to prove a claim, which unfortunately is often the case, the stats can be used for whatever you want them too.

The po'or stanza is outstanding. Great tone throughout here, mixing atmospheres and voice. Strong piece. Thanks

Lydia said...

Whew, this is brilliant.
our smart boards use chalk---a quarter
absent, out hunting to feed families,
another ambivalent, already
knowing their destiny's local,


That brings it full circle to the beginning of the poem. What a sad cycle. What a remarkable poem.

Yiota Luyu Ladybird said...

It's the same situation in every part of this world, i guess..."but will never make government statistics
nor answer the standards of learning test" like you say, Brian. Education and civilisation some times dont meet each other on the way...I love the way you show all this in the poem.

Dave King said...

This is definitely my kind of poem - one of maybe, but for now THE one. For me, at this moment in time, it has everything. I can't say I love it - it's not that kind of poem - but I'm silent before it.

Sabio Lantz said...

What amazes me is how differently different cultures or different personalities handle the same poverty.

Lorraine said...

Very little makes sense to me now, it's a comfort to read you, because of it I'm not alone

Lisa said...

this one is over me Brian. Sometimes your poems do that, I have to read the comments to understand. It is me :)

my heart's love songs said...

this brings home all of the indecencies to atrocities that people are subjected to around the world. afraid i'm having trouble right now holding onto hope for any positive changes.

hoping all in your family are well soon. {and that you don't get sick!}

colleen said...

I'm late and kind of speechless. I appreciate seeing the arms for pillows and Picasso drawing trucks.

Uneven Stephen said...

I just love your succinct opening lines, Brian. They say so much about our society - our tendency to ignore the issues and sweep them under the rug. Amazing read.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Cleverly done Brian.

I wonder if governments will ever grow-up for I feel mankind is sliding backwards.

So I laugh too for tis better than crying.

Anna :o]

Semaphore said...

Well said. Too often people fail to look behind the statistics, numbed by the numbers their acceptance and inaction only make it more probable that they will repeat the mistakes of history.

Kim Nelson said...

You bring to bear the point that, although evolving, we have far to go...

Matthew Quinn said...

A great read. I'm a sucker for anything with a historical angle.

Steve E said...

During late May I'm going to walk down your street, and smugly smile at any neighbors, saying to myself "Nyah, nyah-nah nyah nyah"
as in "You don't know me...but I KNOW YOU, you tree-hugging, weed-fertilizing,
don't-step-on-my-grass Peeps!

(Joking about everything except "end-of-May" visit.
PEACE!

franza said...

clear voice, strong words. Reminded me of T.C.Boyle, he just popped into my head while reading your poem. we easily tend to forget what only can get better by acting on it. I really like your poem, really.

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

Hi! Brian...Thanks, for sharing the image and after reading this stanza Of your poem...

"on the PO'or end of the county,
our smart boards use chalk---a quarter
absent, out hunting to feed families,
another ambivalent, already
knowing their destiny's local, one
skating thru & the last..."


I have to agree with you wholeheartedly,
laughing with me, because honestly it makes [no] sense"..."
deedee :(

Smith said...

Great poem Brian, as always. Love the image in "Bucketing bathroom waste/...(Look out below)..."

Nilanjana Bose said...

Your poetry is always thought provoking...makes sense beyond any statistics. Funny and sad at the same time...

Tigerbrite said...

Hope u r ok brian.
U must b to write this-
I remember being in the firing line as a cabin attendant in the days of highjacks and bomb scares on board which we as crew had to check for-
Peace

Lady In Read said...

brian, like Heather said - you put a human face to these social issues often ignored.

Other Mary said...

It makes sense...but you're right, it won't fly on a bubble answer sheet of a standardized test.

Laura said...

even when we are able to fill our hearts with love, we cannot seem to figure out how to fill everyone's belly with food... yet there is an abundance of both.

Sue said...

The answers are important, but we need to remember that they are not as important as the children giving them.

=)

poeticlicensee said...

Takes courage to work in any of today's school districts-- 'tis a noble
choice & much fodder for writing...

Chris Lawrence said...

A song to to the immigrant heart and displaced person in any context you like, Brian you strike a chord and i love your control of words. You and your family have a wonderful Christmas

Lisa Golden said...

When we laugh, we remember what we learn.

Well done, sir.

James Rainsford said...

Very appropriate Brian, especially at this season of over-indulgence.