Thursday, February 14, 2013

FormForAll: Dum(he)b, but gettin smarter daily

photo by Daquella manera


every morning, i play warden
to those who just can't get along
in general population

we call it 'alternative education'
which sounds better than iSoLation---
we walk d
                o
                  w
                     n the side

of the the building to the bus
which will ship them off to another location

& you can always tell the new ones,
green, unsure what's about to happen

'what are you in for?' i ask
he's in camo, neck to foot,
and blaze orange above
    
'i was racist'

as in past tense, a quick fix
before the punishment's had a chance
to begin --- or a moment of weakness,
he turned against his fellow man
& what for? he learned it somewhere---

'were you doing it cause you are or to
be cool?'

'be cool,' he snickers

'how'd that work?'

silence, except our shoes gritting out
each step & perhaps he's waiting

but i've no reason to soapbox the street corner,
light up his ignorance as street lamps
like muzzle flashes on a drive by---no,

we got nine weeks walking this road 2gether,
ten minutes across campus tip to tip,
to chip chisel the rock and remake the art
once intended---listen to his heritage
of corn bread & collar'ds, confederate flags
& coloreds---how cool hate is to taste,
it starts here----all the eyes on us
as we pass pimping the walk of shame, yeah

we real cool,

Gwendolyn Brooks wrote that,
she was black, but i bet he don't know it, i do
though & recite it soft, then wave them off
as the bus pulls out, my fav-
rite part of the day

june being too far on to jazz,
just yet.

Over at dVerse Poets today Gay has us pulling the tools out our poetic tool kit...alliteration, assonance, consonance, diction, denotation, hyperbole, personification, simile...and use a few in a poem. She will open the doors at 3 PM.

Yes I realize it is Valentine's Day....and that I did not write about love today...but its expected today...maybe i will write love tomorrow...and its Black History month as well. Still....happy Valentines and all...

93 comments:

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

Hi! Brian...
I'm first?

manicddaily said...

Hi Brian, wonderful cadence gothic poem, interior/exterior monologue. Happy Valentine's Day. There is love here too. K.

manicddaily said...

Hi Brian, wonderful cadence gothic poem, interior/exterior monologue. Happy Valentine's Day. There is love here too. K.

Manicddaily said...

Ha. I am on iPad with self-correcting type. I meant wonderful cadence to this poem. K.

Grace said...

I like the alternative education, though there is no quick fix to problems such as overcoming hate ~

I like remaking the art once intended...your words and heart would heal and shape it ~ Happy Hearts Day today and everyday ~

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

'were you doing it cause you are or to
be cool?'
'be cool,' he snickers
'how'd that work?'


I asked you a question in the previous box, but you have asked a better question...to the lad.

I think in your very descriptive poem you have used the "poetic tool kit...alliteration, assonance, consonance, diction, denotation, hyperbole, personification, simile... to your advantage.

[In your quest to help a lad try to get on the right path in life.]
Thanks, for sharing Daquella manera's image too!
[Cont...]
deedee :)

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

Brian, ♥Happy Valentine's Day♥
to you and Mrs.Tara Miller, I hope that you, have a nice one...too!

the walking man said...

Alternative education is that the same as Mao's Re-education? That shit didn't work either--the only way that works to solveall the ism's of the world is total saturation of the cultures in opposition to each other.

ladyfi said...

This is wonderful and perfect for Valentine's Day - a story of hope of redemption!

Mark said...

I find it hard to believe someone would be racist to "be cool" but I wouldn't actually be surprised.

JANU said...

We have rehabilitation programs here too. But, how many of them stay clean? Most of them go back to what was once familiar...only a few reform.

Daniel said...

It is all learned. Oh how quickly is seems to become a part of folks. I have seen this so many times.

Betsy Brock said...

I hope you give us a few more posts on him. Planting little seeds each day....45 bits of wisdom over 9 weeks is better than a speech that will go in one ear and out the other.

Pat Hatt said...

Sad how many are preached it
Nice call avoiding the expected umm spit
And doing crap like that to be cool
Usually ends up making one look like a fool
Hopefully you correct the path
And he can do the math

tony said...

Cool on the outside often means freezing on the inside?

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I love that you resits soapboxing the street corner, as you say. Taking the long-term approach. Much more effective. Wonderful glimpse into your world Brian.

Bossy Betty said...

I think Ms. Brooks would totally approve of this poem. Maybe you did write about love after all.

Laurie Kolp said...

How fortunate they are to have you... and June will be here before we know it... smiles... Happy Valentine's Day.

Alice Audrey said...

I write about love most of the time. Occupational hazard. I hardly notice Valentines most of the time.

Kelvin S.M. said...

...alternative education - i like that Brian... for i prefer a living isolated from the rest... yet being in general population is something where we can get more chances of growing into a person that is good or bad depending on what you wanna be... being isolated is more self focused and you can get better chance of meditation & reflection on various things but could be partial in some aspects of molding a character... really nice read and i enjoyed a lot... smiles...

Valerie said...

The name tag 'racist' worries me.

Happy Valentines Day, Brian.

Mary said...

I love the way you work with the kids, Brian. You have a special touch. The school year is now on the downward slope. It won't be long.

Gloria said...

Never understand racism Brian, never is something feel furious and my kids are like me thanks God:)

Happy valentine's day! be nice and lovely with T!!!

hedgewitch said...

collards and coloreds--and that flag, once a sign of at least those who died in pursuit of their values, now such a mark of shame. and agree with k--there are all kinds of love, and quite a bit shows up here. (Just read that Brooks poem a few nights ago. 'We jazz June/We die soon'--hits you where you live.)

Brian Miller said...

it is a great poem hedge...i have a cd on which she and several others perform it...its pretty powerful...

Tara Miller said...

You certainly never like to be in that box of what's expected, my love! We have come to learn this about you, heehee.
A lesson he is learning the hard way but the beauty is in the truth you speak: "remaking the art once intended". This is a wrong he can make right and become a better person of character in the process. And you, my dear, are planting that seed by talking to him daily.

turtlememoir said...

love that stanza about walking the road - all those c-words hitting hard... & i'm thinking the way we pronounce the letter itself - soft - so deceptive against the harshness of words it introduces (hope that makes sense)...

& you may think you're not writing love, but i think love is never far from what you write

Joseph said...

You must be one tired guy by the end of the day with all the challenges you deal with...I was kind of wondering where that image was going to lead to today. ;<)

As for love, don't you think today should be a holiday? To celebrate all forms of love. I hope you'll write about love soon too. Can never get enough of that kind of magic.

Happy Valentine's Day Brian!

veggiesyarnsandtails said...

PS: How funny is that. Comment from Joseph above is mine. Blogger in their wisdom keeps us logged in, even the next day it seems. LOL

I'm sure if Joe was sharing his thoughts here, they'd be at least partially on my wave length.

Bye again, G :<)

Helen said...

Regarding 'c' words ... if we could c-lone you, spread you out all over our c-ountry .. think of the
c-hange!!!! Stellar write, Brian. Yes, it's all about the love.

Claudia said...

ya know ..when i read how you didn't soapbox the street corner, light up his ignorance...i had to think of jesus when he's writing in the dirt and all the people around waiting, expecting him to say something and he just doesn't...and it's so powerful cause they start thinking on their own, lay down the stones..i hope he does as well lay down the stones... a fantastic poem bri..

Myrna R. said...

You may not have written about Valentine's Day but love is infused in your poem. A different kind of love, one that accepts and let's the other be. And I know you love the kids, maybe especially the ones who get in trouble. If Valentine's is about hearts, you reveal yours with every write. So thanks for showing us your love always. you don't need a special day, but I hope today is special in some way. Have a happy one.

Green Speck said...

"Alternative education" - you used it well !!!

Yousei Hime said...

I taught Alternative HS, and it is still one of my favorite teaching experiences. Enjoyed the piece and memories.

rch said...

Nice gritty taste of reality. Thanks for stopping by my blog, I really appreciate it.

happygirl said...

I really like alliteration in prose. It's something that sings to me. Great topic. Real.

Heidi said...

Really nice reference to Brooks. I like how this poem sounds when read aloud. It makes me think of how powerful your voice can be, and the wisdom needed to use it properly.

aprille said...

'nitty gritty' is right. Impressive. It'd take years before I could compose something so complex and multifaceted. [and contemporay].

Teresa said...

I love this! It really is one I can relate to as I sit in my alternative high school.

Brandee Shafer said...

It really does take a special person to do that sort of job well. Happy Valentine's Day. You write love poems often enough that you're off the hook on Feb 14, I think. :)

G-Man said...

Brian...
Most teachers that I know are just like you, longing for 3:30 or June!

Brudberg said...

Well written, and I love the small alliterations you have thrown in there. And darn you are quick.

:-) Cheers.

Polly said...

Concern is as potent as love

Alexandra said...

we call it 'alternative education'
which sounds better than iSoLation---
we walk d
o
w
n the side


I love this piece, particularly the above referenced stanza. I'm studying literature this semester...

moondustwriter said...

I was thinking of a new form "detonation" with those kids you work with you never know
Happy V day
ya know it could snow all over cool

Leovi said...

Yes, I like this original composition with a very interesting content.

S.E.Ingraham said...

I think Brooks would love what you're doing here - it's a difficult task, undoing hatred - especially the racist to be cool ignorant type - and you have such a good grasp, it seems to me, on a way to go about it...slow and steady and not preaching. Good luck to you and thanks for the glimpse into your most interesting life. You do important work Brian.

kaykuala said...

Nice to be working with kids. Sure is a challenge when faced with problem ones. Great poem utilizing many of the tools with which I'm trying hard to be familiar with. Nicely Brian!

Hank

Susan Daniels said...

Love the rhythm and cadence in here, not to mention the message. You rocked this.

Katherine Krige said...

Happy Valentine's Day to you too sir. And maybe there is a little love or want of it in your tale. Should prove to be interesting if your young man can find any of it - for his fellow man (black or white) or even himself

Wolfsrosebud said...

thanks for doing a job most would not... and letting us take a peek into your life

Gretchen Leary said...

"How cool hate is to taste" <-- amazing line B.

I taste as sense of bitterness in this piece and no wonder.

Well, wonder actually, because you're a wonderful writer.

whenspaceissilence said...

He was racist. That statement really marks a before/after point in the poem. I enjoyed it a lot.

You did well not writing about love today :)

jane hewey said...

your love for humans shines.

Glenn Buttkus said...

My wife teaches in the public school, and her 10-11 weeks summer vacations get ate up in about 2 frantic weeks it seems; I liked this piece a lot. It contained many of the tools Gay suggested but they laid back in the stanzas as images and messages burst around us like water balloons. Def a strong sharing.

henry clemmons said...

Everything Gay or we could have hoped for or wanted from this prompt. Excellente. Working in this field must be a great challenge.

Heather Sawaya said...

'were you doing it cause you are or to
be cool?'

'be cool,' he snickers

Interesting response. I wonder how quickly he would have come back with the other choice if he'd been in the enviornment that he learned that racism was ok. You being able to step back and not light into and lecture him from the start says a lot. It is a process, a gradual exposure to others' worldviews. Such a humanistic and compassionate work, Brain, very inspiring. :)

pandamoniumcat said...

I love the way you handled the situation...just let him think on it...at the end of the day it is a change that needs to come from within... awesome poem.

TALON said...

Loved it, Brian. I think you hit all the right notes :)

Jen said...

So many still learn that from their parents. Very sad.

Susan said...

You aced this day! And using "we real cool" and all up to, but not "die soon." A worthy read, and true.

PattiKen said...

Powerful piece, Brian. Happy Valentine's Day!

Susie Clevenger said...

Playing warden...I did that a time or two. This is powerful. Hate scars early when it is taught at home. You always amaze me with your talent...great as always!

ninotaziz said...

Today I am focusing on sounds and cadence, and i like what I hear - very much.

zongrik said...

the rhyme and beat in this made it seem really rappy.

i like alternative education.

adeeyoyo said...

We could do with some programmes like that in my country. Mind you, it's mostly the 'older folks' I think who need it most and it's actually too late.

This was so well written, Brian, that I could picture it as a movie.

I really loved -
...to chip chisel the rock and remake the art once intended---listen to his heritage of corn bread & collar'ds, confederate flags & coloreds---how cool hate is to taste,
it starts here----all the eyes on us as we pass pimping the walk of shame, yeah...

Lorraine said...

I hurt so much for all the injustice and disrespect of off-whites if you're not white you're another colour....It hurts that racial ignorance still exists.I have been asked if I were: Spanish,Gitano, Mexican, Jewish, Arabic, Italian, Portuguese, and oh so many other...sometimes not so nicely, and other times an insult as a Canadian...When I use to work fr Immigration, I used to be asked what nationality I was, I would tell them I'm French Canadian and they would say yeah but, what's your real race, you're real heritage. I'd answer : I'm a human being? I'm french Canadian! and then another predudicial quesiont, the other side of the medal. " oh no, you can't be, you are way too intelligent to be Canadian" OhGosh...I say I'm everyone, I'm a citizen of this world and I wear all colours....

lucychili said...

working against the flow
for individuals against context
real people real hope

Dave King said...

This piece is as good as a video. I think I know these guys. Seems they might be the same the world over. And yes, the guy who WAS racist sounds the most transparent. Thanks for this, it's a jewel.

Marbles in My Pocket said...

what they/we hear and see is what they/we will do and say. Young or old, life is all about being cool, which is just another way of sayng, "Look at me!"

Jyoti Mishra said...

'alternative education'
which sounds better than iSoLation..
So true Brian..
great thoughtful expression..
we grow everyday !!

rumoursofrhyme said...

Enjoyed reading this. With folk like you in the education system, Brian, there is always some hope...

Poet Laundry said...

Wow...you killed it Brian. So good. I especially like the 'we got nine weeks...' stanza. Great writing.

Rebecca S. said...

to chip chisel the rock and remake the art once intended...an uphill battle for sure. I don't envy you your job, but then we are all given those individual graces to do our chosen work. Work that we choose, or is chosen for us? Sometimes it's hard to distinguish.

Kim Nelson said...

A story packed neatly into this poem, shedding light on the source of a certain kind of darkness.

kkkkaty said...

You have a keen sense for this kind of work and also putting it into poetry form...it is a noble thing you do and I hope you don't reach a burnout point but are able to stick with it...I know you are making a difference. Many kids will one day look back and no doubt recall it was you who marked a starting point for their lives turning around..a light in the tunnel you are....

kkkkaty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joanna said...

you certainly put your tools to good use here, brian. love the verse that starts "we got nine weeks..." especially... rhythm from start to end. smiles.

Vanessa V Kilmer said...

A very well crafted poem, Brian. Sure does highlight the absurdity of thoughtless behavior.

ND Mitchell said...

Loved this Brian. So sharp- I recognise the character from the students I work with too. You're doing a great job-I know it from your observations, the way you are going to "chisel" the rough edges. Wondered if you'd seen the film "Freedom Writers". I use it with some classes. It sounds like it could suit your students too.
David

ayala said...

Great lines here, Brian....but i've no reason to soapbox the street corner,
light up his ignorance as street lamps
like muzzle flashes on a drive by---no...I admire the work that you do and getting them while they are green gives you the chance to change the way they see the world. Great write and good job :) Hope you and T had a great Valentine's Day!

Sue said...

I waited to write of love as well.

And what you did write was very cool.

=)

RMP said...

I imagine this is quite an interesting duty; I imagine that walk must feel like an eternity on some days. I liked the visual you presented in the soapbox stanza.

Mama Zen said...

I love this, Brian. Really beautifully done.

flaubert said...

Brian, this is a wonderful poem on how taught behaviour is just that, usually taught in the home. Excellent snapshot piece. I am trying to make the rounds on open link, I know... I know... it is Friday and it is way over due. But life is crazy busy these days. Now, I am off to read your open link poem right now. Hope your "V" day was special. We went to see "Flight" Denzel Washington was above and beyond perfect in the role.

Pamela

missing moments said...

Takes a special person to do the work you do! And your poetry speaks to a world we seldom see.

Cat said...

Difficult work, but I'm sure very rewarding. I admire those of you who help to shape the difficult lives of the youth.
Have a good weekend!

sage said...

You tell a disturbing-but all too true-story in a wonderful way

odyzz said...

loved it to the core..alternative education..On the right spot ..

I somehow missed posting it because of the faulty net connection..

Read here
http://odizzey.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/imprints-of-love-dverse-poets-pub

FrankandMary said...

I'm glad for the lack of soapbox since I hate self-righteous tirades. One thing your poems are not, Warden(smile), prey to the tyranny of normal. ~Mary

Beachanny said...

Finding a few minutes to read and starting with yours. How powerful this is, and what great use of the toolbox! Overriding all that is content and texture creating a modernity that supports the meaning. It doesn't shout, "hey, look - I'm writing a really current, modern poem" but rather catches you like a new song that you immediately like does which holds your heart in your throat all the way to the end.

Syd said...

I hope that he gets it because hate starts so young and festers, only to make a person old and miserable before their time.

Zouxzoux said...

This is really powerful. There are so many people out doing good work in the world who are never recognized (and maybe don't want recognition) and you seem to be one with the work you do. A glimpse into your world makes one feel a bit...... lazy. :)
You go, Brian.