I’m headed to the art opening tonight of a dear family friend, who brilliantly blends percussive beats through the medium of Batik genius. The last time he stopped by to visit I insisted that he sit down and enjoy a bowl of tomato soup. I haven’t seen him since.
Check him out: here. Yes, do it.
Let’s get right to today’s submission, a living biography of one who made me love writing:
My high school English teacher
did things with words that
were far and away the masonry
my adult attitude.
Things we were afraid to talk about in
high school locker-rooms.
Indeed, she did things brought up in PTA meetings.
Things illegal in 9 states.
Each day, she sat crosslegged on a desk,
blue fingernails making the
overhead projector smell like lilacs
and pen ink.
We would drink up her lectures like
alcoholics experiencing withdraw while
she would teach us her best of lessons:
The proper way to write an essay.
We were 12 strong, each
Of us left wanting from years of
adults assigning the wrong
Astrology sign or seating arrangement,
And could have caused chaos in the classroom
like little Ravens looming on the doorway.
Imagine the havoc that teen libidos could reek
(for each of us cleaned our teeth only on
weekdays beginning with ‘T’)
against her like every
other English teacher we had in the past,
But she started off the year
Saying ‘fuck’ during class, of course
to illustrate the way language can
course through veins.
So we behaved.
Sat in our seats diligently,
And grew fat from sucking on the teat
Of the mystery of literature.
The sounds from her mouth were
A heroin addiction;
A low-paid laureate,
She spoke in 12 lettered poems,
Zodiac hydra-headed poems
80 language poems brought to you in
Technicolor and Dolby 5.1 digital surround sound.
She called us all her Einsteins,
because counter to what our grades may say,
we were constellation brilliant.
And we believed her.
And we all thought we had a chance with her,
even the girls.
Especially the girls.
Because she practiced bisexual polyandry—
She was married to Shakespeare and Swift,
Austen, Shelley, Achebe,
LeGuin, Twain, and J.K. motherfucking Rowling…
She taught them, each of her lovers, to us
like they were our mothers and fathers.
As time passed, so did our grades.
Our work evolved into sophisticated
Schizophrenic scribblings, a Frankenstein
Of twitterings before it was ‘a thing,’
with pens dancing a cacophony around
a page tracing a map
of cities only explainable in fiction.
We hopped a rudimentary line refined tightrope thin
by a circus appetite for knowledge
and the sins that we could imagine
doing if only our inkwells were deep enough.
But even as our lives were worn on
our teacher’s skin
like proud tattoos,
A disguise would be
painted on face every day:
Even into Spring, she would swing her scarf
so her hair was wrapped inside
hugging her neck,
disguising the truth that her life outside
of school was a ghoul’s paradise.
In the end, she was victorious,
delivering a dozen blows
like the shoemaker who felled giants,
through the words of students.
We are fighting for her:
Mainstream soldiers, still in love.