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11th Grade

POETRY

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WHAT TEACHERS MAKE, or
You can always go to law school if things don't work out
By Taylor Mali
www.taylormali.com

He says the problem with teachers is, "What's a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"
He reminds the other dinner guests that it's true what they say about
teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.

I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the dinner guests
that it's also true what they say about lawyers.

Because we're eating, after all, and this is polite company.

"I mean, youıre a teacher, Taylor," he says.
"Be honest. What do you make?"

And I wish he hadn't done that
(asked me to be honest)
because, you see, I have a policy
about honesty and ass-kicking:
if you ask for it, I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor
and an A- feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won't I let you get a drink of water?
Because you're not thirsty, you're bored, that's why.

I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
I hope I haven't called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something Billy said today.
Billy said, "Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don't you?"
And it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen.

I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely
beautiful
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math.
And hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you got this (brains)
then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this (the finger).

Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
I make a goddamn difference! What about you?

The the impotence of proofreading
By Taylor Mali
www.taylormali.com

Has this ever happened to you?
You work very horde on a paper for English clash
And then get a very glow raid (like a D or even a D=)
and all because you are the wordıs liverwurst spoiler.
Proofreading your peppers is a matter of the the utmost impotence.

This is a problem that affects manly, manly students.
I myself was such a bed spiller once upon a term
that my English teacher in my sophomoric year,
Mrs. Myth, said I would never get into a good colleague.
And thatıs all I wanted, just to get into a good colleague.
Not just anal community colleague,
because I wouldnıt be happy at anal community colleague.
I needed a place that would offer me intellectual simulation,
I really need to be challenged, challenged dentally.
I know this makes me sound like a stereo,
but I really wanted to go to an ivory legal collegue.
So I needed to improvement
or gone would be my dream of going to Harvard, Jail, or Prison
(in Prison, New Jersey).

So I got myself a spell checker
and figured I was on Sleazy Street.

But there are several missed aches
that a spell chukker canıt canıt catch catch.
For instant, if you accidentally leave a word
your spell exchequer wonıt put it in you.
And God for billing purposes only
you should have serial problems with Tori Spelling
your spell Chekhov might replace a word
with one you had absolutely no detention of using.
Because what do you want it to douch?
It only does what you tell it to douche.
Youıre the one with your hand on the mouth going clit, clit, clit.
It just goes to show you how embargo
one careless clit of the mouth can be.

Which reminds me of this one time during my Junior Mint.
The teacher read my entire paper on A Sale of Two Titties
out loud to all of my assmates.
Iım not joking, Iım totally cereal.
It was the most humidifying experience of my life,
being laughed at pubically.

So do yourself a flavor and follow these two Pisces of advice:
One: There is no prostitute for careful editing.
And three: When it comes to proofreading,
the red penis your friend.

Tony Steinberg: Brave Seventh Grade Viking Warrior
by Taylor Mali
www.taylormali.com

Have you ever seen a Viking ship made out of popsicle sticks
And balsa wood? With tiny coils of brown thread for ropes,
Sixteen oars made out of chopsticks, and a red and yellow sail
made from a baby's footie pajamas?

I have.

He died with his sword in his hand and so went straight to heaven.

The Vikings sometimes buried their bravest warriors in ships.
Or set them adrift and on fire, a floating island of flames.
The soul of the brave warrior rising slowly with the smoke.
To understand life in Scandinavia in the Middle Ages,
You must understand the Viking ship.

So here is the assignment:
The class must build me a miniature Viking ship.
You have a month. And you must all work together.
Like warriors.

These projects are what I'm known for as a teacher.
Like the Egyptian Pyramid Project.
Have you ever seen a family of four standing around a card table after dinner,
each one holding one triangular side of a miniature pyramid until the glue dried?
I haven't either, but Mrs. Steinberg said it took 90 minutes,
and even with the little brother on one side saying,
This is dumb! This is a stupid pyramid, Tony!
You're going to fail this project.
If I get Mr. Mali next year, my pyramid is going to be much better than this!
And Tony on the other side saying,
Shut up! Shut up! You little %#@!
No, no, no, no, no, no, no! Keep holding your side
or I swear I'll kill you after the glue dries!
It was the best family time they'd spent together since Christmas.

He died with his sword in his hand and so went straight to heaven,
which the Vikings called Valhalla.

Mr. Mali, if that's true, that you would go straight to Valhalla
if you died with your sword in your hand,
then if you were an old Viking
and you were about to die of old age,
could you could keep your sword right by your bed
so if you felt like you were going to die
you could reach out and grab it?

I don't know if their gods would fall for that,
but it sounds like a good idea to me.

Tony was out for a month before we heard what was wrong.
And the 12 boys left whispered the name of the disease
as if you could catch it from saying it too loud.

We'd been warned. The Middle School Head had come to class
And said Tony was coming to school on Friday.
But he's had a rough time.
The medication he's taking has made all his hair fall out,
and he's a little shy about it.
So don't stare, don't point, don't laugh.

I always said I liked teaching in a private school
Because I could talk about God
And not be breaking the law.
And for an Episcopalian kid who only went to church
On Christmas and Easter, I sure talked about God a lot.
In history of course, that's easy,
Even the Egyptian Pyramid Project is essentially a spiritual exercise.
But how can you study geometry and not believe in a God?

A God of perfect points and planes,
Surrounded by angels and angles of all different degrees.
Such a God wouldn't give cancer to seventh grade boy.
Wouldn't make his hair fall out from the chemo.
Totally bald in a jacket and tie on Friday morning.
And I don't mean Tony. Not one single boy in my class had hair;
the other 12 had shaved their heads in solidarity.
Have you ever seen 13 bald-headed seventh grade boys,
all pointing at each other, all staring, all laughing?

I have.

It's a beautiful sight. And almost as striking as 12 boys
six weeks later, now with crew cuts on a Saturday morning,
outside the synagogue with heads bowed,
holding hands and standing in a circle
around the smoldering remains
of a miniature Viking ship,
the soul of the brave warrior
rising slowly with the smoke.

Daisy

Totally like whatever, you know?
By Taylor Mali
www.taylormali.com

In case you hadn't noticed,
it has somehow become uncool
to sound like you know what you're talking about?
Or believe strongly in what you're saying?
Invisible question marks and parenthetical (you know?)'s
have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences?
Even when those sentences aren't, like, questions? You know?

Declarative sentences - so-called
because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true
as opposed to other things which were, like, not -
have been infected by a totally hip
and tragically cool interrogative tone? You know?
Like, don't think I'm uncool just because I've noticed this;
this is just like the word on the street, you know?
It's like what I've heard?
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, okay?
I'm just inviting you to join me in my uncertainty?

What has happened to our conviction?
Where are the limbs out on which we once walked?
Have they been, like, chopped down
with the rest of the rain forest?
Or do we have, like, nothing to say?
Has society become so, like, totally . . .
I mean absolutely . . . You know?
That we've just gotten to the point where it's just, like . . .
whatever!

And so actually our disarticulation . . . ness
is just a clever sort of . . . thing
to disguise the fact that we've become
the most aggressively inarticulate generation
to come along since . . .
you know, a long, long time ago!

I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you,
I challenge you: To speak with conviction.
To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
the determination with which you believe it.
Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY.
You have to speak with it, too.

To Each His Own
~Author Unknown~
     I cannot change the way I am,
        I never really try,
        God made me different and unique,
        I never ask him why.
 
        If I appear peculiar,
        There's nothing I can do,
        You must accept me as I am,
        As I've accepted you.
 
        God made a casting of each life,
        Then threw the mold away,
        Each child is different from the rest,
        Unlike as night from day.
 
        So often we will criticize,
        The things that others do,
        But, do you know, they do not think,
        The same as me and you.
 
        So God in all his wisdom,
        Who knows us all by name,
        He didn't want us to be bored,
        That's why we're not the same
        
The following poem was written by a terminally ill young girl in a New York Hospital  and was sent by a mediacl doctor.

SLOW DANCE

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day
On the fly?
When you ask How are you?
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?

You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say,"Hi"

You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....
Thrown away.

Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

 

Crazy punker face

Find more interesting poems and send them to me. I'll publish them on this page.

Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted
 ~Percy Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, 1821
R. M. Hutchins