Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pencils Down Please

I remember when I realized

Middle school was Hell

When I watched old reruns of

Saved By the Bell,

Bayside High the idealized school,

a surreal spool of lighthearted pranks

and very special episodes too.


Amid the corny California campiness

there was something amazing to me,

Zach Morris and his gang

only had to worry about

one looming SAT

while I worried over three

tests from a shadowy regency

that purposely designed their tests to fail

giving little heed to their wide fatal swath,

a bloody trail of broken student futures

educational thirst choked back by

the stifling sutures of Sequential Math,

Earth Science, and Spanish,

we could only watch as our teachers

hesitantly pulled each state-appointed stitch

over seas sneering lips,

snarls sewn away by binomials

we became the murmuring chattel

of a Scantron monarchy,

bisected by our hatred and desperation

to graduate.


While we were interred in

worksheet work camps,

driven by the sharply cracking lash of

Regents test preparation,

“What was the Emancipation?”

*crack*

“Why is this a parallelogram?”

*crack*

“Draw the elliptical pattern of the lunar cycle.”

*crack*

Abo-gado! Abo-gado! Biblio-teca! Bliblio-teca!”

*crack*

we call out our acapella

chorus in clipped Spanish

all interesting lessons banished by

mandated deadlines

passed down from on high

to our resentful teachers

forced to teach the Civil War

in two weeks with little heed

who those who can barely read

much less understand why

Wilkes-Booth shot Lincoln.


We wailed and gnashed

our teeth as we sat in rows,

frustrated regiments hunched over

tagged up desks

noses to the Earth Science

grinsdstone hollowing our minds

into sedimentary mortars

under a twisting pestle of guilt

guided by the hands of

our teachers,

reluctant alchemists who

weren’t shy in ticking off

reasons on a short list for

passing these tests

brewing classes cast in

a scalding cauldron of

multiple choice repetition,

in pressured retort many kids offered

righteous sedition,

their fevered participation taking

shape in staircase wars between

frustrated factions exacting

swinging fists into each other

because sequential math can’t feel the sting

of knuckles on the bridge of the nose,

but those who didn’t succumb to

the lust to come to blows decided

to run from their No.2 pencils,

accepting that they couldn’t fit into

the stencil of the model student

made to stew in preordained failure.

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