Back to School

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I cannot recall the last time I sharpened pencils, yet I smell them.

Crayons disappeared from the house five years ago when the kids stopped using them, schools dumping color-in-the-lines after fifth grade. But I can almost feel their waxy paraffin between my thumb and forefinger, leaving that oily residue that stays way long.

Like a return to the new, the school year starts in the season of dying.

The dissonance, I sense it like spasmodic leg quaking that tremulates chairs while calming nerves.

“It’s show time!” I mimic the movie star’s manic Joker’s smile as I fly out the door. No chorus line.

Yet not the performance but the insistence that erodes: “Wake up!!” I want to jolt them in stentorian holler as my head spins and spits pea soup—in a virtual world they recognize.

In real time, I merely cajole, advise, admonish and filibuster, all for their awakening to themselves, their process and their world, adrift in someone else’s expectation.

 

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Awakening

 
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Awakening prompts a glancing checklist:

Same place as last consciousness–

Darkness or light–

Feel my bones collect, my eyes adjust–

First blink: lids dragged over gravel or oil?

First move: any pinches, aches or strains?

On my feet, the day’s first inhale, 

a wet finger to the wind.

Last night the pings of paranoia 

called through the curtained phone

closed down for good–for the night,

disturbed the blank peace of erasure,

electric muted screams of digging rebuke

nagging disappointment and broken rules

known only to those who hide them.

Ping: You don’t know…

Ping: You don’t have…

Ping: You are not…

Ping: You … 

The device pinged and dinged, 

begging me to bury sound deep in darkness.

And I did.

The morning checked in misaligned,

a misstep of hungover, awed silence.

Roaming the days hunkered inside me, 

downward dream-filled head of cotton

clear cuts paths of fallen dead trees; 

upright sight, moving back like Mercury,

the illuminating specks piercing a miasma

best trailed in side-step unresolved truth,

prick the skin like sand in a wind storm

abrading hope-possible of reconciliation.