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A high school graduate
posed a question on YouTube
         What is school for?

After 25 plus years
of instructing,
I'll provide
a heartfelt answer.

School, for me, is
an opportunity
to share a passion for listening,
reading, opening minds,
      developing souls,
teaching students to share
their feelings,  
    debate opposing views,
challenge what they already knew.

I detest state tests,
and I'm worried
about the coronavirus,
but I step through my school's doors
each morning donning a mask,
and I teach
     for the love of my students,
     for the pride in my subject,
     for the hope of our future.

I teach because if I don't,
will someone listen to their hearts,
and pre-pandemic, who will bring
extra food to share after class,
dress up  as a cheerleader
at pep rallies and homecoming week,
coach cross country, sponsor
Friday afternoon writing clubs
for students who need
an outlet for their creative voices?

You see, there ARE many of us
out here who truly care
and want to teach
students life skills
and a way to cope.

Be careful when you ask,
"What goes on in my high school?"
Stop in and observe first-
I am proud of my heritage
as a second generation educator,
and I'm grateful for the students
who have taught me as much
as I've taught them.

Teachers model empathy
      and understanding,
the ability to time manage
     with school, sports,
                 and part-time jobs.
They remind us that we need
to think
and feel
and care
for each other.

Come to my school;
     walk through our doors,
and then tell me -

             What is school for?
My son shared this video with me. I was stunned. We need our schools and teachers as part of our communities. They teach us to care and can help us heal during this time.
A student stayed online today
  to ask an earnest question:

               "Will this pandemic have a lasting
                 impact upon society, or will it, too,
                 be forgotten like the Spanish Flu?"

I hadn't thought of a reply just then;
instead, I stared through the screen
and spoke from my heart.

"I think everyone in school right now
will be fundamentally shaped
by this magnanimous event;
in prior generations, it was world wars
and Vietnam, for me it was 9/11,
but this year's tragedy will become
a fixture in your collective memory."

"My hope is that your generation
will rekindle society's compassion
and generosity,
that you will grow
from these months
of social isolation
to listen more closely,
engage in meaningful conversations
honor older generations,
your schools,
and the value
of a hard day's work."

                            "You mean to be a more kind,      
                             respectful, and responsible  
                             generation," he said smiling.

"Yes, and to show those
older and younger
what it means to be enriched
by hardship,
wise through self reflection,
humbled by uncertainties
and unknowns."
This week we read Poe's story "The Masque of the Red Death" and articles about the Black Plague and Spanish Flu to understand the role of pandemics in history and literature. I would count today as one of the most eye opening and important class discussions I have had since I first started teaching over 20 years ago.
Sandy Hook Call to Love
by Michael R. Burch

Our hearts are broken today
for our children's small bodies lie broken;
let us gather them up, as we may,
that the truth of our Love may be spoken;
then, when we have put them away
to nevermore dream, or be woken,
let us think of the living, and pray
for true Love, not some miserable token,
to command us, for strength to obey.

The first line in the poem above came from President Obama’s speech in which he wiped away tears as he discussed the Sandy Hook killings.

###

For a Sandy Hook Child, with Butterflies
by Michael R. Burch

Where does the butterfly go
when lightning rails, when thunder howls,
when hailstones scream while winter scowls
and nights compound dark frosts with snow?
Where does the butterfly go?

Where does the rose hide its bloom
when night descends oblique and chill
beyond the capacity of moonlight to fill?
When the only relief's a banked fire's glow,
where does the butterfly go?

And where shall the spirit flee
when life is harsh, too harsh to face,
and hope is lost without a trace?
Oh, when the light of life runs low,
where does the butterfly go?

###

Sandy Hook Call to Action
by Michael R. Burch

We see their tiny coffins
and our hearts break,
so we ask the NRA―
"Did you make a mistake?"
And we vow to save the next child
for sweet love's sake,
but also to protect ourselves
from enduring such heartache.

###

I dedicate my poems to the victims ― may they rest in peace ― and I urge all Americans to act now, before the next massacre. If we don't, our loved ones will remain continually at risk:

Epitaph for a Sandy Hook Child
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.

###

This poem is for mothers who lost children at Sandy Hook, and in other similar tragedies ...

Childless
by Michael R. Burch

How can she bear her grief?
Mightier than Atlas, she shoulders the weight
Of one fallen star.

###

Shooting Gallery
by Michael R. Burch

If we live by the rule of the gun
what can a small child do,
but run?

###

Sixteen of the students who died at Sandy Hook were six years old; the other four students were seven. I wrote the poem below for another child gunned down by a madman. While we cannot legislate sanity, we can be sane enough to legislate away the "right" of serial killers to purchase assault weapons so easily. We can defend many small victims from such carnage, if "we the people" have the wisdom and the will to defend them.

Child of 9-11
by Michael R. Burch

a poem for Christina-Taylor Green, who was born
on September 11, 2001 and died at the age of nine,
shot to death ...

Child of 9-11, beloved,
I bring this lily, lay it down
here at your feet, and eiderdown,
and all soft things, for your gentle spirit.
I bring this psalm ― I hope you hear it.

Much love I bring ― I lay it down
here by your form, which is not you,
but what you left this shell-shocked world
to help us learn what we must do
to save another child like you.

Child of 9-11, I know
you are not here, but watch, afar
from distant stars, where angels rue
the brutal things some mortals do.
I also watch; I also rue.

And so I make this pledge and vow:
though I may weep, I will not rest
nor will my pen fail heaven's test
till guns and wars and hate are banned
from every shore, from every land.

Child of 9-11, I grieve
your tender life, cut short ... bereaved,
what can I do, but pledge my life
to saving lives like yours? Belief
in your sweet worth has led me here ...

I give my all: my pen, this tear,
this lily and this eiderdown,
and all soft things my heart can bear;
I bear them to your final bier,
and leave them with my promise, here.

###

US or Them?
by Michael R. Burch

The NRA wants money in the till,
thus Adam Lanza had a license to ****.
Our government’s the serial killer’s shill
and will be, unless WE express OUR will
and vote to save our children from Boot Hill.

###

This haiku below makes me think of the students and teachers of Sandy Hook, who were trapped in a war zone:

War
stood at the end of the hall
in the long shadows
―original haiku by Watanabe Hakusen, translation by Michael R. Burch

###

Piercing the Shell
by Michael R. Burch

If we strip away all the accouterments of war,
perhaps we'll discover what the heart is for.

It seems to me that the NRA has declared a war ― an open season ― on our children, by insisting that assault weapons must be available to every Tom, **** and ***** Harry. But what will we, the people, say and do?

###

Something
by Michael R. Burch

Something inescapable is lost―
lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight,
vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars
immeasurable and void.

Something uncapturable is gone―
gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn,
scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass
and remembrance.

Something unforgettable is past―
blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less,
and finality has swept into a corner where it lies
in dust and cobwebs and silence.

###

Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

Frail envelope of flesh,
lying cold on the surgeon’s table
with anguished eyes
like your mother’s eyes
and a heartbeat weak, unstable ...

Frail crucible of dust,
brief flower come to this―
your tiny hand
in your mother’s hand
for a last bewildered kiss ...

Brief mayfly of a child,
to live six artless years!
Now your mother’s lips
seal up your lips
from the Deluge of her tears ...

###

Here are tribute poems for exceptional children who should be alive today:

Emilie Parker,
the horror grows starker
as we see your sweet image
and cringe at the carnage;
but dear, how you mesmerize
with those vivid blue eyes
and death cannot sever
our hearts from you, ever.

###

Dylan Hockley,
a blue-eyed "gorgeous boy,"
was super beyond
death's power to destroy.

###

Jack Pinto,
who idolized the New York Jets' Victor Cruz,
is now Cruz's hero
and neither can lose.

###

Grace Audrey McDonnell,
our "beautiful, sweet little girl,"
wherever you are now,
there's a far brighter world.

###

Avielle Richman
had a "spirit that drew people in"
(and an infinitely knowing
and cheeky grin!).

###

Noah Pozner,
"extremely bright"―
your mind and your smile
both exuded light.

###

Jessica Rekos,
a "creative, beautiful little girl"
who loved horses,
are you now riding Pegasus
down heaven's courses?

###

Benjamin Wheeler,
"an irrepressibly bright and spirited boy"
had brown, soulful eyes
and a spirit no killer can destroy.

###

Ana Marquez-Greene,
as sweet a child as we've seen,
you "beat us all to paradise."
Was it because you were so very nice?

###

Charlotte Bacon,
our love for you is unshaken;
as you "lit up all rooms" down here
you now illuminate heaven, dear.

###

Daniel Barden, his family's light,
once brightened this earth, and now brightens heaven―
not a bad trick for a boy who's just seven!

###

Olivia Engel,
angel,
your only possible crime (I've been told)
was "being a wiggly, smiley six-year-old!"

###

Allison Wyatt,
so shy, so sweet, so caring,
loved to garden with her mother.
Six pink candles, then an eternity of sharing.

###

Catherine Violet Hubbard
when you were here
the cupboard
of life
was never bare,
but full of light
and your electric hair!

###

Josephine Gay
had just turned seven;
now she will always be
"a lovely part of heaven."

###

Caroline Previdi,
"sweet, precious little angel,"
we fondly remember
your infectious smile.

###

Chase Kowalski, age seven
seems awfully early for heaven;
but since there was never a better child ...
perhaps the angels called, beguiled?

###

Jesse Lewis, so full of life,
you could fill a room with bright laughter;
I'm sure you're entertaining angels now
and brightening the Hereafter!

###

James Mattioli,
exceptional swimmer,
without your bright presence
the world seems much dimmer.

###

Madeleine Hsu,
what we know of you
is so limited, but we love you too.
May your loved ones keep your memory secure
and your memory give them the strength to endure.

###

Here is a memorial poem for the school's lovely, valiant principal who, according to accounts, ran to defend her young charges the minute she heard shots being fired, lunging at the shooter in an attempt to disarm him:

Dawn Hochsprung,
each child's courageous friend―
you defended them all till the unthinkable end;
so let your kindness and valor be sung.

###

Rachel Davino protected her charges
from the killer's barrages;
like her loyal friend,
she was loyal to the end.

###

Anne Marie Murphy,
fun-loving, hard worker;
you defended your charges―
no coward, no shirker.

###

Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau,
who loved to teach, and who loved children so,
we're glad you achieved your dream
that final year, and how lovely you seem!

###

When Mary heard shots being fired, she could have run away to save her own life, but she joined principal Dawn Hochsprung by leaping to her feet and running to protect the students she loved so much.

Mary Sherlach, who courageously ran
without thought for her life to the aid of the children,
taught not just them, but also us,
love's surplus.

###

Everyone loved Miss Victoria Soto;
she was every student's friend.
And when a killer threatened her charges,
she defended them to the end.

Keywords/Tags: Sandy Hook, school, shooting, massacre, students, children, teachers, gun control
Eva B Apr 27
When we were in the classroom
we'd draw up the shades
to welcome sunlight.

We were one:
in exhaustion
frustration
excitement.

There is something fundamental to learning
that lies in the energy of the body;
what one body becomes
among others.

I hope you can all remember
what we became
together.
I miss my students, my classroom, my colleagues, my professors.
Mpaka was obsessed with passing his examinations
asks a friend for advice
'two sticks of marijuana keep your memory sharp!'
you can recall all you learned in class

On the examination day he ***** both sticks
enters examination room bouncing eyes widely open
feeling very strong nothing could stand his way

The female teacher serves examination papers
wearing a T-shirt with a big head of a lion
widely opening its jaws ready to devour its victim
with bold words THIRSTY FOR YOUR BLOOD!

Mpaka sees a lion approaching ready to finish him off!
he refuses to be killed like a coward fights back
instantly jumps up grabs the teacher throws her on the floor!
as he reaches for her neck he is restrained by the male teacher
'if i moved with my knife this lion would be a carcass!'
four men come and drag him out of the examination room
drugs are not good especially for students
WA West Jan 28
The noise was incessant, a jungle in a suburban street.  Their uninhibited laughter and carefree glide as they strutted down the pedestrianised street. All jumping in turn over the bollards at the end of the street; shrieking at each other. They didn't give two *****, cocky little *******. They were all hair, charity shop jumpers, and self centered to boot. One of them parked his sporty ****** car in the back-lane, like he was trying to colonise the space between his house and theirs. This prevented his easy access; he couldn't get out effortlessly on his bike any longer (several thousand pounds, carbon fiber, a serious model) or unload his shopping. In a semi-lagered up state; post-Friday night drinks up the town he had gotten himself into a revengeful state. He wanted to show the little ******* that he was not to be messed with. Thinking he was just some bald middle aged fella in a parka, he'd show them.

He let his resentment get the better of them, keying ''****'' into the car. **** them, a keying well deserved, don't want keying then turn Black Sabbath down. He had felt briefly guilty the next day; eggs on toast and coffee wondering if he should have done something so drastic. He was ultimately mild-mannered and avoided conflict where possible. His guilt diminished when the music started up again; he hadn't had a moment's peace since they moved in. He felt like they were insects on a hot day; constantly invading his personal space and making him feel uncomfortable. They woke him up constantly; he hadn't had a decent night's sleep in weeks. His skin was getting paler, his eyes bloodshot. They should try looking at excel spreadsheets for hours on end, punching in formulas on 3 hours sleep. None of them had worked an honest day's work in their lives, little *******. He hated their flat caps, berets and other arty accessories. Sometimes he thought about lining them up like dominoes in height order and pushing them off the Tyne Bridge. Or feeding them to the dogs at Brough Park- **** little *******. Sliding up the street- carefree and laughing at nothing in particular. Laden down with cheap cider and frozen pizzas. His friendly notes had been ignored, if diplomacy fails then it is time for military action. Politeness was no use anymore. They obviously couldn't care less about keeping him up; night after night, making him miserable. He put on his black Adidas tracksuit and his Berghaus jacket zipped up to his face with the hood up. He put a ball-peen hammer down the back of his jogging pants, he smeared joop on his bald-head, on his ears and on his neck. He walked next door ''Once in a lifetime'' playing in his head, jumped over the little garden wall and banged on the door. As he banged on the door, he heard the clanging of a snare drum bursting out of the window. He didn't have time to react as the stonework from the window ledge above fell on his head. He never did get a chance to make his grievances clear.
many learn lessons that schools cannot teach
where ego meets danger and unknowns beseech
perhaps there is nothing and everyone’s clean
or maybe there’s something that’s going unseen
from teachers who cheat to admins who steal
no dose of prestige can save lives that are real

the crossing guard owns twenty cats with the mange
school cop clipped his brother while out on the range
a history teacher abusing his kids
librarians selling school books to high bids
the crew in the arts are all in on a coup
while the principal staff launders money for *****

hey, i’m just here to sweep up and i call what i see
other folks won’t speak up but a few will agree
i don’t do that no more, i’m out five years last june
they’ll be following suit lest they change their act soon
still no one here dares to expose what’s involved
in keeping the peace held among these halls
couplet for those just trying to get by
for peace in solidarity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojleMU9rZ4k
Äŧül Sep 2019
Its oil lit up by tiny sparks,
The night lamp in the corner glows.

Its light fills up this room,
The love flower is waiting to bloom.

The noise is from the loom,
Its expression will mute the gloom.
My HP Poem #1774
©Atul Kaushal
William de klerk Aug 2019
If metal music racket and a straight jacket
can clog the corporations cogs,
then unemployable bleach blond anarchists turning white coats into black cloaks
is when  tattoos and pierced ears
become a parents worst fears.

We walk with untucked shirts and short skirts, wearing  a students mask
I hide a whiskey flask
in a blue blazer pocket  
knowing  dam well they can't stop it
if I walk with a lit cigarette in the parking lot past a parent, it's inherent that since they can't beat us anymore we won't join them.

But I'm not scared.

Because their clone army won't harm me.
Just like the microwave rays the crazies raved on about in the good old days
when disco was king and Justin didn't sing,
back when ADHD wasn't real,
and depression was just no big deal.


So call me a student psychopath armed with a devilish laugh as i bounce round a rubber room in a tin foil hat
refusing to be the systems lab rat.
So they call me a rebel as I lay back in revel watching the rabbit hole unfold
as a thousand sheep break the mold
that the man made when red writing atop a page became how we wage a child's worth.



So the sheep that march through the flames
immerge adorning robes of rebellion,
as the sounds of so many chains severed symphonies through the generation
marking many young minds escaping the confines society's shoved down indoctrinated throats.
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