Burnout

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Burnout
I can see the silent prayer in your shy dog eyes –
“Please do not see me.”
I try to meet your gaze, but you side-eye anything else, face blank.
Anything but visually confirm my looking at your blank paper.
I can see the subtle jitter of your fingers texting under the desk.
The promise of attention, or at least the facade of practiced indifference,
now lies broken at both our feet.
As I plaster on a smile and grab a piece of chalk
I turn to the board
Chipper as an axe
And announce for the twelfth week in a row
“What kinds of music do you like?”
Three weeks from now, you will roll your gaze to one side
and ask, monotonous
“What do you like music?”
Then I will snap your pencil in my mind, smile, set it down
like a trophy for my patience, and hope for brighter things.

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Day 9…and Day 10 too!

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Day 9: Teaching Time

To teach time is to lasso a universe,
Give it a face,
Three arms,
And define it in gravity defying mice and father figures,
So children can stare at said face
And say, “It’s 2:30pm…Can I play now?”

To teach time to children
Is to give them the tools to be fearless
In the spaces when their mothers and fathers are gone
It’ll just be an “hour,” Sweetie.
5,000 toad tongues
6.37 Mercurial muffins
Whatever it takes to get Mom through that door….

 

This is a truncated version of the original poem I wrote. I sort of like keeping the tone with little children, who are great at pointing out the random nature of our definition of time. Here is what the original poem looks like – I was inspired because I’m trying to teach my Chinese students about tense, and Chinese doesn’t have tenses. Time becomes the means of defining the tense, but then defining time becomes a lesson in and of itself…Anyway, the poem!

(Ah yes, and I wanted to reference Doctor Who and Douglas Adams and how they look at time, but I’ll save that for another day)

Day 9: Teaching Time

To teach time is to lasso a universe
Give it a face
And three arms
Define it in gravity defying mice and father figures
So children can stare at said face
And say, “It’s 2:30pm…Can I play now?”

Ah “now.” Now is easy.
The present is easy – just point at your feet
The past is over your shoulder
The future is out in front of you
Trickier are the languages with no tenses
You must convince children that –ed and –ing
Control the revolutions of the planet
Difficult is the difference between “late” and “later”

At the tone it will be 12:00am. I should be sleeping.

To teach time is to rely on a foundation of seconds
Stray even a little from these cinder blocks
And fall into the haze of actual time
Which passes in watched pots and heart attacks.
Don’t try years, or months.
We exist first in the second, and build from there
Hold on one second, it will be just a minute,
Be there in five, just give me ten…

It is 3:30pm. I’m hungry?

To teach time is to teach someone to tell time
Tell the time that is – we cannot tell time anything.
Not to stop. Not to go.
What time is it?
An arbitrary point which through centuries has solidified into a series of what we call numbers which tell me I should be hunting, or sleeping, or starting a fire.

It’s 4:57am

To teach time to children
Is to give them the tools to be fearless
In the spaces when their mothers and fathers are gone
It’ll just be an “hour,” Sweetie.
5,000 toad tongues
6.37 Mercurial muffins
Whatever it takes to get Mom through that door….

 

 

Day 10: Before I Stop Myself!

The exhale is the poetry.
Quick there’s not much time to say all of this one great thought that I’ve had about people and the great chasm which does not need to be there between all our hearts oh Jesus how can I hope to convey the greatness of my feeling the power the anger the rage the passion the joy the…
Inhalation? That’s editing.
I had an idea. It wasn’t a new one.