Theme for Class

In school they never let you
pick the topic, especially those
secret and distant
worlds I once dismissed out of hand

offering no more
than mystery and flight,
fantasy filling hours on end
with its looping plots

the constant adrenaline tug
of knowing how chapters
were just beginning
to unlock keys to untold lands

where you already knew of ciphers
and suspense, how each dangling drip
begat an understanding
that peace would always be elusive

that the earth must tremor
and the seasons topple,
so all stories repeat their truths
in different lies.

A Reading Zoo

We were animals,
Our fifth grade a colony
Divided by our teachers
Into a pecking order.

We were classified:
A taxonomy of pre-teens
Stickered with some native bird
According to our calls.

We were heard:
Our words trilled or died as
Benign smiles and nods marked
Anthropological work: ticks, crosses.

We were a kingdom
At whose apex I was permitted
Books, their names escape me,
Their insides: hollow trunks.

We were herded
Apart, some to the savannah’s
Far reaches, the flightless,
Separated from prying eyes.

We were taught
But these were not flying lessons;
I would realise years later
They only tracked our flights.

We were attended
By braying crowds of teachers,
Or worse parents eager to
Lunge upon each misspent note.

We were beaten
Until our audience was sated
That we had grown averse
Or fearful of this eating.

We were readers
Before, but as I glance back
I wonder why these cages
When we should all fly?

(28 February 2015)