High school's almost over
and with it the fond memories
of a hellish childhood
and the agonizing tedium
of having fun.
I heave my bookbag for the last time
into overly spacious classrooms
with bad climate control
onto careworn graffitized desks
that nobody will ever tell apart.
Outside, the bell rings (or beeps)
and people who have stopped to talk
or make love in the hallway
reorganize their priorities
and run to class.
I waste some pleasurable time talking to the girl next to me,
who can't understand me
--that's OK, it's mutual--
and I wonder what common, noble purpose
2100 teen-agers can share.
One by one, my dearly tolerated teachers
from the well-forgotten past
to the near-forgotten present
lift their aged and young faces
to speak to all thirty of me.
To some I was a name, to most a memorable face;
to two or three, a person
of macroscopic potential
with whom it was their duty,
not their job, to communicate.
My job? My job was to submit--
to "be educated" in the style
ripped off from the Greeks--
about which, knowing nothing else,
I probably can't complain.
It's definitely true that I have learned
a great deal about
what they wanted us to learn,
and that I think much more clearly now
when thinking of Chaucer or calculus.
I can go through life confidently assertive
of the characteristics
of a tragic hero,
and knowing that the derivative
of velocity is acceleration.
But why isn't there a high-school philosophy course?
Who's going to tell me when I
have BECOME a tragic hero,
or whether my life is accelerating
to higher or lower velocity?
Chalk dust and blunt pencils have taught me the Golden Facts;
brunettes have taught me values; and friends
have un-taught my mistakes by example.
They say it takes a wise man to know his own ignorance--
(Pssst! What chapter were we on when we covered that?)
My favorite teachers have always been the English teachers:
No, really! They pointed me to the literature
that REALLY taught me how to think.
But my greatest debt to them is that never, in all their form and style,
did any of them ever tell me how to write this poem.
I can't wait
to get out of here.
Stephen F. Eley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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