This is my 6th cohort of teacher-leaders in the Invitational Leadership Institute and my ??? poem trying to capture the voices and perspectives of the students I have (although they teach me as much as I teach them. The 2016 crew was phenomenal as they always are. I'm entering this last day of Young Adult Literacy Labs with a smile. This has been another spectacular summer.
A Summer Together, Us
U and I = We, &
b ecause of us, this cohort free, is in harmony with the
u nexpected, what is suspected as knowledge built from trust and
n estled amongst cone flowers, we must, recognize the artistry of how we
t each and trust that greater generations have searched and thrust,
u pon oceans, skies and land. We become
M usic makers when we stand, find a song
a nd learn to hum the tunes no matter right or wrong, for
t eaching colleagues and classrooms to become strong,
t hanking the Great Whatever to have this opportunity to belong
e ach other during a summer sing-a-long of
r eflection, writing, and practice – alone, our
s olos create a tune, but together its the cacophony of what makes us who we are.
C uz 5th grade mattered most to me,
o utwardly became a host to free the
l aughter and love for creativity, the
l earning and finding serenity with
e agerness to write through complexity,
e levating wisdom through inquiry and a
n eed to write the word and the world.
F inster’s class was a carnival of knowing,
a sking youth to argue and continue growing,
l etting our minds imagine galaxies, all that glowing,
l acing possibilities with language, modeling and showing
o h, the places we could go, ya know? We
n eed leadership to show us the way. So, 5th grade…Hooray!
All of us do it, really, for the Joshua’s,
l essons taught that can’t be planned, and
l ife epiphanies too grand for state assessments and voyeurism.
i can be me, because of who we are together.
s isters, brothers, siblings, mothers, fathers, teachers, a feather in the
o verature, ovations, symphonies, conversations.
n elson Mandela was right to call for Ubuntu.
T his road stops, but this path opens.
a return. A departure. A circle. A line.
f inding a way for student voices to shine –
t he village is required, indeed.
E ach of us needs a bow tie, a
d esire to ask how, what, when, where and why.
F leeing allegorical caves to eternally fly, to prove
i f we’re right (or more than likely wrong),
a rm wrestling with Aristotle to be ethically strong,
n udging Nietsche and humming along to the woulda,
s houlda, coulda punk music scrambled like eggs in our heads.
D own with the king for years,
a bout ten of ‘em, recruiting suckers, Mac and Mike, and making men of ‘em. Throwing
v erse like Green Eggs and Ham, poetically rehearse like Sam I am &
e clipse the sun, I am that man,
W illingly cursed, linguistic spam, grabbing the mic
o h, this writing jam, our election year, now that’s a scam,
o nward we fight, we is the exam
l oving this work ain’t an epigram, because
e ach of us teach, POW! ZIP! ZAP! WHAM!
y es we got game, our pedagogical slam!
G od needs to do something about the DMV,
r each into his crockpot of chaos, you see, and
e ventually do something about the lines, the attitudes.
t his is the human condition summed up by an institution.
c hurches, districts, governments, nations,
h ell needs no explanation when registrations are due,
e veryone understands bureaucracies make us blue.
n ext. Next. #94. #94. What are you here for? a licensed renewed?
M en and women, such brutal beasts with political feasts of
a ccountants, lawyers, surgeons, and morticians, at least
t he taxes are put to good use. Abuse? Um, sir,
h ow can you charge me when I don’t even live there anymore?
e ven when I’m free (born in chains) I implore you hear me out.
w henever I’m in a thunderstorm, hurricane and/or the rain, the
s un eventually returns to explain, as Marley does, every little thing is going to be alright.
K: If I be waspish, best beware my sting
a nd P: My remedy is then, to pluck it out. Her
r esponse?: Ay, if the fool could find it where it lies (and
a ll our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death). Whoops. Wrong Play.
P etruchio tries: Who knows not where a wasp does wear his sting?
e xeunt (no not yet): In his (ring ring ring, hello)
t ounge. Who’s tongue? (not King Lear’s fool)
e lloquentia perfecta. drool. Yours, if you talk of tails. School.
r ight. Iambic pentameters are cruel…
s hakespeare’s language, feminist, so (very hot) cool!
A udentis fortuna iuvat, wrote Virgil, fortune favors the brave,
l and of the free for Kek is gaining wisdom about liberty,
l earning the best interest of students, says Gallagher,
i s teaching to read like writers and to write like readers,
s o they’re prepared for college and the workplace.
o h, you know, The National Writing Project thing, is
n othing else but a pro-learning thing.
A trox melior dulcissima veritas mendacis, the bitter truth is
n othing compared to the sweetest lies. Of all the
t hings that impressed Kek, “tribes from all
o ver the world” were most amazing. In a tree, stargazing,
n ot wanting to return home, cow grazing in a field.
n osce te Ipsum. Know thyself,
u ntil there’s nothing else to be known.
c overing as much material as possible (Gallagher again) is
c ause for the surest way to extinguish curiosity.
i believe all of us are working against this.
K nock knock. Who’s there?
a venue. Avenue who? Avenue knocked at
t his door before? Knock Knock. Who’s there?
I ce cream. Ice cream who? Ice cream right now if you don’t let me in (&
e ventually, determined, I know I will win when I find my way inside.
Z any jokes? Knock knock? Whose there? Butter. Butter who? Butter bring an
u mbrella, because it looks like rain outside!
r eally, Crandall. Knock Knock jokes. Whose there?
l ettuce. Lettuce who? Let us out of this room. It’s cold in here.
o h, Bryan just turned on the air conditioner once again.
J ust when the truth revealed itself from the
e lephants in the room, we made the choice of door #2, a
n ew car? No. A kaboom! with pink Big Brothers
n ext to a pen of walking pigs, what a zoo,
i ntellectually, how do we know what’s true, while
e xiting from the shackles they create in caves. The
C ackles of ugly sisters, they rave, haggle us with
o ur hubris, bliss depraved, as brought to us by NBC. We
x ist, exact, and extract everything we see (but is any of it reality?)
B een trying to bend it like Beckam since I was born,
e levating my athletic game, but somewhat
t orn by the nincompoop tendencies of my play.
h ey, Dad. Catch. A football, until the hospital has its say, and there I
L ay (or is it lie) in a bed with a pinky to the side -
a nd I can’t hide because it’s broken, a token of the
m anic way I approach sports (my every day), well intended,
b ut on display (oh, shit. I think I’ve lost again) trying to find my way.
e h, um, err, well, eek. I’m not the only one…in
r eality that Howard guy didn’t have any fun (and
t hat is the truth behind why she drank the whisky).
B oy, my Spanish is rusty…if non existent…
e stos es la vida, pensar en nada en la presencia de gente que nos gusta (when
a ll I am thinking about is everything in
t he presence of beautiful people. Las personas hermosas son
r aras, no se distinguen por la cara, sino por el alma.
i can be wonderful, too, with all of us (that’s you…and I owe a
z illion thank-yous to the stars.
M an, even my English fails me at times (even as
i attempt some rhymes across the page.
c asualidad destino no se pero te
c onoci por algo…
i know there’s reasons…there always are.
c rea las mas alta y mas grandiose vision possible tu vida --
h eck, even Oprah knows Spanish, it’s her quote! porque te conviertes
e n lo que crees. I think we’re all something amazing.
C olonialization requires the demonization of culture…an
a nnihalation of tradition, a destruction & mental inhibition where one
r eality is right, and even if one puts up a fight, the other is made wrong --
even if strong, history is only partially told. “On earth,” writes
e mmanuel Jal, “The worst people are not only those who commit evil”
n o. It is “those who stand by and turn a blind eye.” In Sudan, how many have
D ied and why do so many of us not ask why? How many more will
e ventually try to find a way out of
r efugee camps to fly with an opportunity of hope.
I t’s the proverb again and again, “Until the lion learns to write, the
s tory will glorify the hunter.” At the core of what’s common & standard an
e cho of injustice, injury, and suffering. That’s the immigrant story.
L anguage is a hymnal, the obvious entwined in subliminal confusion, mixed with an
i ntellectual confessional twisted amongst the carnival, and spiritual,
z inging hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah…
z est is the secret of all beauty…(and
I can hear their chorus sing, “When Israel was in
e gypt’s land, let my people go. Oppressed so hard they could not stand.
L et my people go. Go down, Moses, Way down in
e gypt’s land: Tell old Pharaoh, Let my people go.”
w e all know, and our performance is to show, that
i nvestment in them….to see them grow is what we’re all trying to
s ing (his eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watched). Grace is what we bring.
C onstitutionally, I’m unconstitutional,
a nd unconditionally nonconforming
t o the conversational hypothetical (somewhat
h ysterical, but oddly congregational)
y ou get the point, I’m patriotic and pathological.
S ociologically I become historical through the
c acophony of the allegorical, but this may only be
h ypothetical because my understanding of history is questionable
a nd sometimes it’s unethical with the detestable ways humans are un-
g overnable (especially in years where candidates, unpresidential, are
e xistentially, incorrigible and impossible). This is just to say,
r eally, these weeks have been irreplaceable.
A nd there was a day in a library where he began to share his story. he and his
b rother with scars. those wars. I went to the Liberian to check out a book…
u nusual look she gave with curiosity. Are you a big brother or something?
B ooks. Those looks make less sense now that I know more. No,
i am not their manager and they’re not in a boy band, either. I’m just here to
l end a hand with this American thing. What? What do they bring? An
i nteresting thing. They bring absolutely everything.
t hey help me to sing and to cling to what matters most.
y outh. hope. laughter. And history. Love. Shadow. Ghost.
L aughter. In the end, isn’t it humor that we’re after?
o h, here’s one for you. What’s orange and
s ounds like a parrot? Um. Duh. A carrot.
s o, what kind of teacher passes gas? Oh,
i give up. A Toot-er. Knock knock, Who’s there?
n eedle. Needle who? Needle washcloth to wipe up your drool?
e very Captain Stick ‘em needs a sidekick, Splash, you fool.
B ut strawberry air-freshener is never cool.
i got another for you. What did the alien say to the book?
l a la la la la la la. Ready? Take me to your reader. Here’s an
i mportant one. Knock Knock. Whose There?
turnip. Turnip who? Turnip the volume. This is my favorite song and
y ou, me, him will always sing along, forever 15.
J uly and August. The Cicadas.
u biquity and ominiscience. The five week dance of notebooks,
l iving and reading and breathing and writing and reflecting and sharing and
i nvesting in one another; an act of inquiry
e volves into discovery only to be
R epeated again. Them. Those kids (those adults)
o ur double-sided minds sculpted around bureaucratic
n onsense (their policies do little to raise student voices)…the
e gotistical always stand in the way with all the ridiculous they have to
s ay (doubt they listened to NPR any time today).
o h, it’s August 4th and the Cicadas are singing forth, but
n ow…now we have each other.
B y this time
e very year, it comes – this disappearance as soon as it arrived,
c aught in traffic on I-95, the artery finally clears
a nd suddenly we’re free to drive away.
u buntu. a voice singular becoming unified in a chorus,
s ymphony, cacophony, and harmony of
e verything evolving together.
W e. Us.
e veryone, on the same page, but writing a different story.
M agic-making, discovering, summer therapy, recovering
a ll that made us want to teach
t o reach one another, a sister, a brother,
t o united and to belong,
e nlightenment from a summer sing-a-long, we are
r eady, and we are strong for whatever the next chapter brings.