Grad Party Moments

After a year of Covid the grad parties have returned. There have been years past where I haven’t attended any of the celebrations of our senior graduates. Last year I made no excuses, we all stayed home. But there have been occasion where I took an all or nothing approach. This year has been different. Perhaps having retired from my school holds precedent. Today I felt tears at a party for the first time in nearly a decade.

For every teacher there is always that student and this afternoon I said a farewell to one of mine. She holds that special place in my heart. One particular display taunted everyone’s heartstrings. She had created, or perhaps mom or dad, a display of her class picture from 1st grade to graduation. My eyes well as I write these words. I think knowing she would be the last person I work with directly on this stage had a tremendous emotional impact on me today.

I looked at all the students and families that I was given the opportunity to spend my life with over the last two decades and I am only grateful. The celebration of a graduate is real and profound. In my own life I didn’t have that luxury when I left high school, so now as a teacher for most of my life I have discovered a certain respect for the life of the students that when I was a teenager I took for granted. To be the adult teacher that comes to celebrate their successes is rather humbling for me.

For all the teachers out there that this summer question whether or not it makes any difference for them to say goodbye to their students one last time as they leave the high school hallways, take a moment to give yourself a break. Though there were many times when you felt like you had no impact on their lives, it is clear they wouldn’t be where they are this summer without your love, compassion and guidance. But we didn’t do it alone we all did it together hand-in-hand because that’s what we cared about more than anything else – the success of our children, our students, our families, our community.

To be a teacher has been probably one of the rewarding gifts of my life and I am forever thankful for the opportunity. Seeing the smiles and celebration of my students this summer has been a highlight and offers assurance as I choose another chapter in my life. I only hope I can have as receptive an audience as I did the kids I worked with on stage throughout my career.

Graduates I wish you only the greatest success in all of your future endeavors and I will be right there to watch you achieve so much in your profound lives.

Thanks for letting me know you – celebrate!


©️ Thom Amundsen 6/2021

A Certainty is Rage

When at wit’s end this identity does unravel,

the spirit, the mind, that epicenter of our brain

begins to take its own journey

while the body will always forever remain.

Hard to know where the mind goes

when stuck in idle unable to let go.

~

There is a response to fear and anxiety

a shutting down of the factory,

all working parts forcibly placed on leave

in order to comprehend the nature of this pain.

Watching the year end,

yet knowing our lives are not over,

we are meant to go forward

an unprecedented commitment lay ahead.

~

I once told a kid, a student, a young man,

while crying in my classroom,

‘this is a brief moment in your life’

when he wailed about losing

a privilege to walk with his peers

with their heads held up high

and a diploma in hand.

~

I looked him in the eye

and said those dark moments will not

ever defeat him, he will move forward,

and make a life of his own.

~

I told him with a passion, a compassionate plea,

do not give up, you must please set yourself free.


© Thom Amundsen 12/2020

We Have Similar Skin

Watched him today

many eyes

would notice

a downcast security

my body my own my mind

thrown to the wolves

with one glance

back.

Watched her today

some certainty

might allow

a surrounding hypocrisy

unleash ugliness

for is it not he, she once,

he will wish

they might he know

she lives, he

Lives.

When all they ever wanted

a glance a love none flaunted.


©️ Thom Amundsen 2019

Ode to Truth

I struggle

a day can change

weather is so fascinating

long before predictability,

when last night I believed I was clueless

to how life might impact

this moment.

As I stand here now,

debating the path to challenge

no longer is there an evening stroll,

the casual nature of the human condition,

now put to the test.

I believe in my heart,

let logic come later on,

I do want love to be a central truth,

long before my ego finds satisfaction.

A sad day

occurs when we no longer might recognize

friendship,

a ‘like’ less powerful than frivolous need.

I am a product of social media,

as are you, me, them, each one of us,

finds our own personal

stamp

has a clear motive for passing on

a reminder,

that truth told

defines our reality.

Question an honesty when measured against time,

perhaps we might understand

when acceptance becomes sublime.

I’m Your Teacher

I wonder if you realize the time we imagine

the words we deliver might benefit the fine

beauty of the child,

taming of the wild.

We don’t ask to change a child’s life

we don’t imagine to understand strife

we offer all our time

with every bell chime.

The other day I walked outside and recognized

an error on my part is certainly ill advised.

Why would I choose pain,

what could be the gain.

I stand before you all daily in my classroom

I would welcome anyone until there were no room.

Yet I need to find an answer

I need to know the future.

I wish I could look you in the eye with a pleasant smile

suggest that what you worry about today is not your last mile

just another daily rule

to understand, why school.

We stand before you with hope and prayer and layered love

would not you think if we didn’t act to be your dove

we’d rather you be miserable,

we’d hold you inside a stable.

I stood in my classroom today and looked around the room

I wish the eyes I see today, could recognize truly the zoom.

this moment is a blip

in years your ideals flip.

Love in our future would be the goal of anyone needing peace

So please give liberty to the idea of some disrespectful release.

A humble teacher we are today

We only wish to delight your way

I Came Back Home …

To catch a dream …

I suppose visits are marginal,

memories, reflection,

hold the hope of lives lost or known

– misunderstood misfortunes –

seem to carry their own weight,

have a bearing

who we are, were then, now

what we might have become,

or some hope to think we have realized that fortune of peace.

~

I listen with quiet mockery to

Dan Fogelberg,

clearly steer me away

from a convenience store,

yet the notion plays my head.

I wonder sometimes why it is when we wish

for that we cannot have,

is there a solution, or is that time forsaken

reality of acceptance.

I would speak to overthrow compromise,

except to suggest we are all human – frailty …

such exposure of will.

~

To tell you the truth,

I haven’t any answer, anymore than I might have

thirty years ago – I only do know today,

I’m as human as I was then,

only how I wish I might have accepted that reality

when all I would ever do is cry to silly

melodramatic lyrics that seemed to

haunt my mind with a vivid persona,

were you ever so aware how many songs we all cried over,

they make better sense today,

back then I suppose they were just,

catchy.

t-

This is just a name,

with an occasional ‘boy’ added,

an utterance, an  endearment, a memory,

a thought brings a tear today,

to know

this man who carved my childhood,

my neighbor,

my kindly soul who always could be found

outside

living a full life

with a beautiful partner, tending their garden, living love.

~

I remember so many summer days, winter storms,

childhood moments where the honor of his presence

helped shape mine and so many other’s lives.

He is the quiet man down the street,

with the cherub smile,

the man whose heart always is in the right place,

where the chuckles that he and his partner (Connie) provide,

gave reality’s grace to lovely children

three beautiful people that today

with family in hand will say good-bye.

~

We all have fond memories,

we love to recall the smiles, the humor, the human nature,

of a good person.

He is the man that one winter day, as I forged waist deep snow,

I stepped into his yard,

he was just finishing his walk,

the banks looked like that of a sculpture.

one step off the bank and I would be at the front door.

As I began, I heard him say,

‘looks pretty clean doesn’t it t

I laughed and said yeah, I’ll just jump right over,

He stopped, stood with his shovel,

hand upon hand upon handle,

a little perspiration mixing with an arctic grin,

‘I bet you won’t’ he replied.

~

I glanced into the eyes of a special man,

who braved my childhood, taught me lessons

that for his children always held true with kindness.

I smiled, walked back to the street, made my way to his

driveway and found the clean, shoveled sidewalk

tapped the doorbell to roust his son out into the wintry day.

~

He beamed, stood with his lance,

hand upon hand upon handle,

a little perspiration mixing with an arctic grin

~

‘It’s always good to see you t

I’ll miss you Don, say hello to everyone!

Going Back Again

bus

Always afraid …

I remember there was a time when I couldn’t move

stuck holding onto the metal railing,

looking about and wondering if anything might return,

any one might show their face again.

I remember always not knowing completely what it was

that she might sense,

that he might wonder and ask someone else again,

I always walked away,

without any solution beyond a confident smile,

unraveling slowly in a definitive manner

wondering if they really might be able to see my smile.

~

I could see it clearly in the mirror,

on the windows of a storefront,

so if I had such a candid view,

then what I noticed in their eyes,

just had to be true,

and with that I would walk away,

again thinking I understood,

but I still never ever really knew.

~

I remember riding the bus home

after another day of battle,

mining my way through a sea of faces,

I was looking out onto the horizon,

when I saw her walking along the street.

I could easily say hello, but instead,

I looked busy, with my best preoccupied

glance I could embellish at the time.

She later said to me at supper,

“I saw you today, you looked sadly contemplative.”

sadly i turned to her and smiled, and then I said

in a quiet whisper,

“that wasn’t me.”

~

*photo found on tumbler