Poetry Break

Poetry Break

This probably isn’t my first time posting Suli Breaks – this poem especially. There’s something about it that speaks to a younger me, while appealing the present me.

It’s no secret that my outlook on public school is dismal at best. In the years since I’ve been a student, little has changed. The technology is better, sure. And if COVID-19 (or any similar pandemic) had happened 20 years ago, I don’t know how I would have gotten through the rest of my junior year.

I am not anti-teacher; I’m very pro-teacher. I feel they need better pay for the work they do. They hold the future of our country – world – in the palm of their hands, and we treat them as the source of our children’s educational problems.

I am anti-Texas Education System, standardized testing, Accelerated Reader, any everything that hinders our children’s creativity. I feel that a governmental agency should have little input what and how our children learn. I don’t think that forcing children to memorize equations and steps is actually learning. I don’t think breaking down a number to smaller bits in a math problem is actually teaching my 2nd grader a vital skill. And as much as I am a warrior for literacy, Accelerated Reader does more harm that good in our education system. It hinders reluctant readers and breaks those who love books.

A student shouldn’t be measured up by how well they do on a test. By how much they can memorize. Because what’s the point of learning these equations, analogies, allegories, and so on if they’re not understanding. Shit, to this day I don’t understand what the importance of “To puppy is to dog as (blank) is to cat.” Not a single fucking clue.

And as the younger generations realize they’re being duped by the public school system, it’s going to land on us to explain why in all the years that it existed, we never bothered to change it. Because as kids, we realized how warped this system is, but we move on. We forget.

And the greatest punchline is, we want our kids to succeed, while our society needs them to fail.

Please enjoy today’s poem.

Exams are society’s methods of telling you what you’re worth
But you can’t let society tell you what you are
Cause this is the same society that tells you that abortion is wrong, but then looks down on teenage parents!
The same society that sells products to promote nature hair, looks and smooth complexion with the model on the box, half photoshopped, and has fake lashes and hair extensions
With pastors that preach charity, but own private jets
Imams that preach against greed, but are all fat
Parents that say they want “educated kids” but constantly marvel at how rich Richard Branson is
Governments, that preach peace, but endorse war, that say they believe so much in the importance of higher education and further learning
Then why increase tuition fees every single year?

from I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate

And on that note, here’s a bonus poem. Please enjoy.

It’s a shame I mean teachers have the most important job on the planet yet they are underpaid no wonder why so many students are shortchanged. Let’s be honest teachers should earn just as much as doctors because a doctor can do heart surgery and save the life of a child. But a great teacher can reach the heart of that child and allow him to truly live
You see teachers are heroes that often get blamed.

Books

The Introduction to “Jump-Starting Boys” by Pam Withers & Cynthia Gill

Everyone knows boys are falling behind girls in education. And that has lots of people, especially educators and politicians, busy pointing fingers and engaging in loud discussions.

Largely left out of this discussion are parents of boys, who are perhaps more aware than anyone that their bright, eager sons hit an invisible wall somewhere near fourth grade, after which they go from engaged to unengaged, discouraged, and disaffected. By their teens, too many seem determined to be slackers in school regardless of parental pleas, incentives, or discipline.

There are lots of books on underachieving boys, but most address educators and come complete with intimidating graphs, case studies, academic-speak, and lists of remedies on which parents are powerless to act.

What about the average guilt-ridden, frustrated mother or father of an underachieving boy? Someone who wants to know in plain language what’s behind this trend and what they can do
about it? What about mentors who crave positive support, not political shrillness?

Most existing books on “the boy problem” make parents feel even more helpless than the school system and their job demands have made them feel already. In Jump-Starting Boys, we have endeavored to empower parents and mentors, and to give them a sense of being able to reclaim the duty and rewards of helping their children.

Toward this end, we have heartwarming true stories and take action checklists. Our aim has been to reassure and support, to turn fear and guilt into can-do confidence.

Who are we? Sisters who have raised boys, and sisters who have worked four careers between us: teacher, family therapist, journalist, and author. Pam is the award-winning author of young adult books particularly popular with boys (including Peak Survival, Skater Stunt boys, and First Descent). Cynthia, a former teacher who now counsels troubled families, speaks regularly at parents’ groups and women’s gatherings.

We firmly believe that reading confidence is a keystone to educational success, which in turn increases one’s chances of a more stable, satisfying life. We hope you’ll find insight in Jump-Starting Boys.

Continue reading “The Introduction to “Jump-Starting Boys” by Pam Withers & Cynthia Gill”

Books

“Wild card, got it…Whatever you need me to be, I’m that thing. That is so me.”

Author of A Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle, Christopher Healy speaks to students at the International Book Discussion
Author of The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle, Christopher Healy speaks to students at the International Book Discussion

Technology is great, isn’t it? Today, I watched Christopher Healy address sixty students (students from St. Matthews and Oxford Reynosa) via Skype. The students gathered today to discuss his debut novel, The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. I take responsibility for that, by the way. After reading the book in November, I forced my coworkers to read it. That led my supervisor to ask if I recommended; I said yes, and today was the effect.

I learned a bit today, and not just about Mr. Healy’s writing process or what books he’s reading (The Two Towers and Deadweather and Sunrise), or the name of one of his favorite authors (A.A. Milne). Today I learned that the average Mexican reads one book in his life. One. Not one hundred, or one thousand. One. And I learned that in the midst of all that violence and corruption stands the beacon to a better future for Mexico’s youth–Oxford Reynosa. All the work they’ve done for their community and the doors of opportunity they opened for students, it nearly brought a tear to my eye. That’s the sort of thing I can get behind. And if I had the opportunity to work there, I’d run across the border in a heartbeat. Damn the risks.

So here’s what I want you to do, readers. I want you to watch the video embedded below. I want you to post it on your Facebook, your Tumblr, your WordPress. I want you to tweet it. Link it in a mass e-mail. If any video needs to go viral, it’s this video. It ends here. Stop reading.

Doldrums

Enter Title Here

There have been times where I’m convinced that my mind is anything but well. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard the rule of thumb–if you have to ask, then you’re not crazy. Still, there are times when I find myself thinking crazy things. Instead of acting on every whim, I write them down and think of consequences that might ensue. I play god and have my creations enact them.

Sometimes I wonder what life would be if I turned out different. I believe we all wonder that at times. If I had more confidence in sixth grade, would I have asked the Little Red-haired Girl out? In the eighth grade, would I have been honest about my feelings for my best friend? I’m not a believer of fate or a grand design, but things happen for reasons, in the end. They aren’t predestined, far from it. It’s just that there are things that have to happen on the path of life in order to come to the most happiest conclusions. If the course of time were changed, I can only imagine I wouldn’t be here writing this and I wouldn’t have a son. At least, not the current son. I don’t even want to think of that.

Observation

I think we’re coming to the end point of our evolutionary chain. We’re raising our children, at least in these United States, wrong. Working at the library proves this. Monica sent me an image that the Squid brought home. It’s science experiment season, so I’ve seen the image at work.

I won’t post the image because I’m far too lazy. But here’s the gist:

QUESTION
HYPOTHESISMATEIRALS (sic)
PROCEEDURE (sic)
RESULTS
CONCLUSION

Don’t question my spelling, I’m just quoting. The foundations of our education are cracked. More so after the Republican messiah sledgehammered the shit out of it during his eight years with his asinine education plan. When our teachers misspell words, there’s something wrong. And this isn’t the first time that I’ve encountered something like this. Years ago, in a note sent home, a teacher reported to my brother that my nephew was in trouble for speaking “fowl” language in the classroom. “Were you clucking like a chicken?” I asked. And don’t even get me started on the ect. debacle.

I blame the Internet for the birth of complacency–learning without learning. Why bother learning something when you can just Google that shit? “I need a book on candles because I need to know whether colored candles burn faster than white ones.” Are you serious? You want a book on this?

To add insult to educational injury, I’ve witness several parents sitting on computers for hours doing their children’s homework, while said children are playing video games. You’re just raising children who, when entering the working world, will sit for hours doing absolutely nothing while people who actually need a job are not receiving them (I speak from experience here, I’ll talk about the pest later).

I need a cigarette. I need coffee. I need all the drugs the cartel has. I need to move to Europe. Or Canada. No, kids, Canada isn’t in Europe.

Doldrums · Writing & Writers

Sans Forgiveness

Some people just want to watch the world burn

A creative writing professor once told a class, “You got to learn the rules before you can break them.” It’s true. How can you rebel against something you have no knowledge of? These days, kids just pretend to rebel. They hunger for revolution, praise anarchy. They have no knowledge of what either of these things mean.

Noche Bohemia

We’re having a reading tonight. I’m in attendance again. I haven’t written anything worth sharing since 2007. I read from the same desktop-printed chapbook I complied for a creative writing class I took in college. I pulled its name from the book of Psalms, chapter 137 verse 9. It’s called Little Ones Against the Stones. In addition to one of my lyrical essays, I also plan on readingSick City” by Charles Manson.

I  intended Little Ones Against the Stones as something much bigger than the final product. It was a project called “My Life as Jesus Christ,” in reference to the Jesus complex I held during childhood. The project was never completely, obviously. My internal ink ran dry.

I became complacent. I close my door on a world that closed its door on me a long time ago. Those are the thoughts you have, anyway. When you just don’t fit in the world, you blame it first before you blame yourself. You never tell yourself that you’re delusional. The world doesn’t care if you’re different from the others. The world loves her children one and the same. But it’s easier to blame your failures on the world, on a society that demonize the unique. I learned that a long time ago. I still haven’t put it into practice.

You say you want a revolution, I say you’re full of shit

Troy Davis was put to death, despite the evidence. Had Troy Davis been white or rich or a former mayor’s son, maybe things might have played differently. Despite our naiveté of our brave new world or acceptance, we know that racism played a grand part in yesterday’s legal murder. The right-wing lynch mob saw justice served for a fallen police officer. Where’s the justice in death for death? Especially when that justified death was of an innocent man?

A woman kills her child and gets off. She gets a book deal. She’s turned into a media darling. I’m so disgusted with the world, I don’t know where to being to list my complaints.

People on the streets don paper masks, holding signs that read “I am Troy Davis,” as if this some Spartacus revival band. Revolutions are rarely won with words these days. Actions aren’t enough. To bring down a government, we must stand up against it. When it pushes, we need to push back. One cannot sow chaos and hope to reap anarchy. Don’t be foolish to think no government is a good government, or that it would ever exist – or doesn’t.

Christian zealots tut-tut and such ridiculousness. Their savior was a sword, sent here to divide not unite. Christ knew the power he wielded. Knew the consequences of his actions. Knew others would distort his teachings and beliefs.

Poetry as a ballot

There might have been a time when I believed in the power of words. Maybe I’m just jaded about it. Maybe writing needs a revolution. Nothing’s happening anymore. Nothing new is presented. Nothing worthwhile that’ll reshape the way we see writing again.

Films no longer move me. The old ones that carried a stronger message, the old science fiction films that once carried social criticism are gone. And zombie movies are just movies about the dead running after big-breasted beauties. What happened to us as a culture? Fuck society. Society has never progressed. But as a culture, what happened? Where we draw the line that said music, film and writing no longer had to be anymore than what it was? Because it’s unnerving.

Future generations

For future generations, I hope that they do not christen just anyone as their messiah. I hope they look back in disgust with our way of murdering legally as we look back at slavery. I hope that their writing is more than just beautiful. That it lasts a lifetime and then some. I hope they realize the importance of books and education. That science and reason should overpower religious belief. And hope they know they can hold onto both. I hope they do not allow their leaders the power of murder.

Breaking the fucking rules

A flower growing from the pavement.