In High School We Believed

Everything

mattered, occurred, became known,

whether we wanted notoriety

or a simple life as a student.

 

Remember walking the halls,

feeling the eyes,

wondering about thinking

that could expose your own state of mind.

 

I remember they told me otherwise,

so I trusted their ideal,

and when the walls caved in

they were nowhere to be found.

 

I remember the rumors,

she was so beautiful,

carried such a wonderful spirit,

no one would understand the hate in mirrors.

 

In high school, we lived many different lives,

some would last a week,

others perhaps a couple of days,

it only mattered if we could find definition.

 

When the word arrived in our mind,

how could we possibly imagine

telling anyone, especially those eyes we were

already afraid of, deathly afraid of knowing.

 

While the world seemed different outside,

internal walls protected our sanity

only when we accepted ourselves in earnest,

if not, we relied upon a mask.

 

Though the transparency, when noticed,

became the final reckoning, we did understand.

always just a little late …

3rd Desk From The Wall

desk

I sit down alone here,

my desk,

my refuge for the hour,

no one can touch me here

oh there might be eyes,

occasional grunts,

perhaps even a wad of paper,

beyond that I have a teacher

knows I sit here

I sit in the 3rd desk from the wall

every day until yesterday.

~

I stopped going to that class,

the desk spoke to me,

the wood burned with spite

a ruthless act of cowardice

I wasn’t able to go near the

3rd desk from the wall,

my name, it is my name embedded in the wood,

the teacher who doesn’t know who I am

except my name

with the words underneath.

~

I sit in the 3rd desk from the wall,

forever burned into my memory

are the lies and deceit

of my peers.

~

Picture found on Tumblr

When We Last Spoke

bullying

That incident in the hallway,

seemed a thing of the past,

I thought we were moving forward,

didn’t think their strength would last.

When we last spoke,

you smiled and said good-bye,

the same way you had

since we met in second grade.

~

High school coming to an end,

the next chapter,

so many lives,

so few recall the memories,

that others have endured.

Yet we go forward

with our day as we always have.

Perhaps a sandwich,

maybe I’ll go for a run,

the summer is ahead,

and college, my God,

this is where I am today.

~

I remember the very day,

they’d been waiting all morning,

he slipped by without notice,

figured today he’d be alright,

but it was after school,

when he walked out to his car,

they’d spray-painted his name,

inside a circle of rejection,

They’d all gone to the dance,

forgot about him that night,

figured he was at home,

doing whatever they hadn’t

any idea what he did,

what did he do,

they wondered now,

standing in formation,

the entire student body,

today’s speaker brought tears.

~

We cannot forget each other,

in the present or later on,

we might think that today

is easily forgotten,

but for some, it remains,

forever really.

That’s the fascination

that becomes our terror.

We must smile a real hello,

we have to become the strength,

to carry their bags,

when the weight becomes too much.

~

We have to keep speaking,

certainly continue asking.

We must believe,

we are all in this together,

then maybe,

another day,

they might,

want to understand.

Self Suggestive Observations

We did remember a time when people stood for what they believed.

There was strength in numbers as we together rallied our cry.

Standing on street corners, waving banners, asking for a voice

to hear the anxiety driven pleas of the masses wanting them home.

Eventually, our desire, plan, our goals seem to have been met,

the boys of the war, and now the women were said to be returning.

That was a victory,

a time of rallied belief,

an energy driving souls

to band together, to believe

yet today we become lost

hopeful yet anxious,

unsure of ourselves,

wishing to step

away from any

controversy.

What about the war at home that continues to try our sheer integrity,

why do we continue to allow ourselves to belittle one another

rather than love each other, and believe in our elegance,

we continue to strive to tear one another down every day,

we laugh at the mockery of thinking we are above disdain,

we continue to drive home the notion that we can do this alone.

I’m saddened tonight,

because again it occurred,

children are taunted,

and the world reacts,

but tomorrow the sun will

rise again on a new day,

and scrutiny will drift

away like a spring rain,

some cleansing but left,

is the turned up soil,

the angst and hate and evil departure from character remains,

we are human beings flawed within our sacred temple.

Whispers

Draw me close

you hear my words.

The fear is real,

leaving the notion

of conversation

a remote tragedy.

I would watch everyone walk by

until alone I could survey the remainder.

That is when the peace arrives,

when the whispers have faded

into the concrete walls of an early

morning encounter, testing my will

to keep going forward, and instead,

decidedly,

painfully,

agonizingly,

walking toward that mass of humanity.

Each shoulder touch,

backpack glance,

every eye that looks my way,

contains whispers, the seeds of fear

drawing me further inside my fantasy.

~

There is a world exists,

magical in its ability to allow

everyone inside,

just sad though to realize

we cannot all be there together.

Instead we cry,

we deliver our wares

to the masses

in the hope of little notice,

to dissuade the knowing

revelations of social cancer.

~

Whisper please …

Days Like These … (on bullying) prose

bullying

I often wonder about my passions in life. I know I became a teacher for a reason, but that isn’t always enough to satisfy my curiosity. I love my job, I love the students I work with, and love all the challenges that come with my classroom and the stage work that occurs after the school day is over. Yet, I often still feel unfulfilled. I do have a beautiful family, wonderful wife, two healthy children that certainly create my reason to exist beyond all or any of my internal struggles. When those challenging days capture my psyche and I question what I am doing or entertain discouragement, my children come to mind immediately. My family and my students often help me to identify a source of purpose in my life, and then an afternoon like today occurs.

I spent the afternoon at a conference named Safe Students, Safe Schools sponsored by the Adler Graduate School in the Twin Cities. The conference was designed to address the issue of bullying in our schools; however, the goal was not only to mollify the many facets of the bully, as much as it was about exploring the whole process of identification. We often forget about the human nature of the bully when all of our energy is spent focused upon addressing the needs of the victim. Today’s conference intended to speak upon the many facets of the issue. The speakers were strong minded and provided wonderful resources to address the topics of the day. Like any conference there was a desire for more definition, more reason for attending, more need to recognize the burden of addressing such an issue in our schools without trivializing the actual label of the process. There seems to be strong commitment to raising awareness in the schools, but sadly, the execution of solution often falls short and the problem becomes a minimized initiative rather than a recognized need.

When I attend sessions like today I often personalize my reaction to the process. I think of my classroom and how I respond to my students on a daily basis. Today, I naturally thought of those students I find most troubling, the ones that interfere with the process of my classroom, the individuals whose sole purpose is, in my mind, to play a power game against my abilities and inevitably label themselves alone, as hostile and disruptive. I think of those situations that interfere with my teaching. I imagine those scenarios that have me wishing I could have the student removed rather than deal with their constant behavior issues throughout the day. I fail to think about their contributions as a human being and focus more upon their insubordinate angst. And then it happens, a speaker takes us along a different course of action. A person, a human being spends time baring their soul, telling their personal story of their child as a student in the classroom, from their perspective as a caring parent.

Tom Mauser’s son Daniel was not a bully, far from it. He was, and is, in Tom’s mind a thriving young man, filled with vigor and energy to capture the attention of his loving father and mother, and younger sister. Daniel Mauser is dead. He was a victim of the Columbine tragedy that took the lives of 13 people on a typical school day. Tom is quick to point out he does not want to ‘white-wash’ this personal tragedy by calling it an incident. He is adamant in telling us that before he begins the story of ‘that day’ that we as audience recognize it as a tragedy and nothing less. Tom Mauser is a real human being with the courage to speak to an audience of strangers, though active listeners, and relive the story of the day he lost his son to a shooting at Columbine High School in 1999. Tom Mauser then proceeded to bring all of us the horrific details of the day he lost his son, starting with pictures of his birth and through the early years leading up to his young age of 15 at the hands of the assailants. What is important to recognize here is that Tom began this whole story reflecting upon what was on his mind that day. He was attending a conference. He didn’t imagine that this day would begin and end the way it did, losing his son in a high school big enough to hide a percentage of its population on a typical school day.

I listened to Tom as I thought about my school and the potential for such a tragedy. I thought about my students and found myself thinking about ways to approach those students I wanted nothing to do with. I thought about why I became a teacher, and realized those are the challenges that I certainly signed up for when I chose this career. I thought about my own family and how easily I find my priorities becoming skewed when I fail to focus upon what is important in my life. I thought about calling my son and daughter. I then thought, thank God I am attending this conference on a Saturday.

© Thom Amundsen 2014

People Plowing Fields

grain

There were these conversations

I tried to be a part of

One might think of them as argument

When you listened closely

I would often wonder about outcomes

How the voices might corroborate

Given the angst shared in dialogue

Certainly lacks some collaboration

One afternoon later in the summer

I saw two or three participants

Laugh together in unison

React to witty banter, sardonic notions

I wondered about their interaction

Given previous streams of conversation

~

There were these situations

I could recall in my life

One might think of them as absurd

If you watched closely

Grown men argue aloud an ‘expert’ theory

Each one eliminates the other

Their point of view would create a stir

Society would ready arms of rule

Suggest one side cancel the fool’s

Insight that seemed to weigh out well

When all was settled into tyranny

The two might sit for hours in theory

Yet one could offer praise to the other

Given previous a perilous situation

~

There were these interactions

I have heard of in distant paths

One might imagine their painful truths

If anyone pays attention

A little boy was taunted at school

Children joined, aggravated words

He cried alone to avoid any judgment

Knew the elders were simply nearsighted

The reality became evidence of abuse

Now a grown man became another

Victim of theories that asked for nothing

Beyond a cry to ignore the world around

-Go with the flow and call it status quo-

Their single solitary lacking interaction

~

We seem to relish our own personal validation

While we willing ignore the changing seasons