To Breathe

Trees like still-frames of fireworks. Palm leaves off golden white.
Pink pom-poms on ends of sulfurous smelling stems.
Lone doves on frowning powerlines.
Trucks with cracked windshields in teacher’s parking lots.
Surgical masks rotting in the gutter. Rocks and robins
and cracked orange clay in places grass won’t grow.

We were six weeks in outside for a mask-break and I could not recognize them.
They all had different faces than I ever could have imagined. It’s the damnedest thing.
I’d known them for weeks. Yet I had never seen their smile.

We loitered on green grass until the birds grew bored of us.
I didn’t like it. I wanted to tell them they had their faces wrong.
Before I could, thank God, they’d stuffed them back under masks
sighing to their self. Smelling their own breath. Confidential grin.

Spied on by the birds and the trees
who have waited a long time
patiently eagerly
for all of us
to take a mask-break
and step out
to breathe.

Hyperbole

I am a teacher. One part courtroom jester. One part dunce. One part dad and one part mom. I am the voice of books, and the ears of reason. I love it when they confess, what I am about to say might be wrong. And I get to tell them. There’s no such thing. Not here. Not in this classroom, in this group of peers. The most important part of recognizing right is the memory of being proudly, loudly, defiantly wrong. My most important lesson. Make a mess. Make mistakes. Fumble my words. Forget the definition of hyperbole. ‘How can you be our teacher and you don’t know what hyperbole means?” he says. I’m no saint. On the inside, I’m eighteen years old again and I want to embarrass him into the ground for having done so to me. But, on the outside, I’m thirty three, on the clock, first year in a new job, honesty is maybe an incentive they add one to two years before retirement, but for new hires like me it’s improv. I laugh at myself and agree. I tell him the most important thing you learn in school are directions to the nearest library. No one, no matter what they tell you, remembers everything. Every time hyperbole comes up in discussion from then on I sound it out slowly and ask them what it means. We laugh. Adults mess up. Forget. Lose track. First and foremost, we’re teaching them how to handle that.

I am a teacher because I was hired and presented to them as a teacher but I never earned them calling me Mr. Homesley, it’s required. Even in lectures I often use my life as my example and I keep wanting to call myself Jeremy. I am a teacher so I am Mr. Homesley and I had never met that man before and I still don’t always recognize him as me. Like hyperbole. Some great exaggeration of my maturity and capacity. One of those teachers who likes to say I am learning just as much as you are. And I am. But that’s a secondary lesson. Secondary to the next six to eight years of sure to be harder than we ever imagined life. I’ll get an email one day. Just shy of a decade. One of these kids will reach out and tell me they heard that great deafening click I spoke of hearing right around when I turned twenty six. It’s eerie, and inescapable, and undeniable. I called my dad, my mom, I apologized to them. I felt my weight, finally, my age, my height, my mortality, everything, all the sudden like that. Hit me.

You don’t grow up. You don’t graduate. You don’t stop learning and gain some wisdom and maturity because you hit a hand-drawn checkmark on a coffee-stained desk calendar. Speaking hyperbolically now, just kidding, that isn’t a word, oh wait, it is? Well anyway. I am a teacher. And as a teacher, the greatest piece of information I really have to offer, is directions to the nearest library.

Life may as well be called school. And while we’re here, all of us, on equal terms, students.

A crutch to the able

These systems aren’t broken. Your tiled roof isn’t broken. But there’s a reason your roofer didn’t push you to choose tin. There’s a reason solar energy is secondary to toxic, highly limited, hard to procure, highly pollutive energy. These reasons are called corporate interests, and the reality is, our system of government was created with them in mind. You know that, because they left humans enslaved while they set businesses free. Fix education. Fix government. That’s the problem. We’ve never broken the cast off these things and seen them fail for themselves.

A crutch to the able-bodied is a disability.

How to: Human

Everything is different, not so forced,
moment to moment, instants like chain links
past and present pulling both sides.

We’ve become so singular.
Specialization, we call it.
It is a most superior sort of crippled.
We have stacked cities on it. Ancestries.
Like who we are is who all was
and what they did to play their part
should pave some way in determining ours.

All lawyers and wood workers and writers and thieves.
Pretending we’re not all just hungry.
So focused on our focus we forgot
if we chose it or it chose us.

Only know it is now and all we know,
and that no one ever thought to put
just human on the curriculum.

All mashed up potatoes

The problem with education is they keep the gravy in the cafeteria,
and out of the classroom. Class, of course, is all mashed  up potatoes.
All biscuit or bread or the stringy strength off something dead.
The only real gravy is found in creativity. Through art.
Repurposing leftovers to make the tastiest part.

A school should do its very best to create chefs,
capable of cooking up their own mixture to dole out on top of lectures.
The problem is a simple answer. Good education could have only one goal.
To give kids the tools they need to make information more than merely edible.

An Edge Occasion.

Education solves criminals before they’re committed. Education is disease prevention. Education wins wars, because education knows when and where and why not to fight. Education bypasses elections by creating presidential citizens. Education pre-dates America, it is how the constitution exists. Education feeds the hungry, especially those with full stomachs. Education is by nature liberal, functionally conservative, and by necessity unbiased. You want to solve the problems facing America? Make laws more teachable, incentivize citizens to be more affable, and blur the line where education ends and adult life begins. In fact, erase that line altogether. All things may be possible, but without education, we will never see past our present circumstances. Education represents options. Education has the power to change reactions into decisions.