Poem: First Day of School


school timeBedroom window open to the night breezes, and the morning call to prayers,

when the children arrive wearing newly purchased clothes

memorialized by high-volume mothers with fancy phones.

On the first day of school

hidden hopes soar to their improbable zenith, touching the underside of the fine line

between delusion and ambition.

Anything is possible and everything is possible and now if everyone will just sit still

for the next twelve years

we can all commence the elaborate charade, the glutton’s ball organized by Caligula,

the trained cat circus overseen by titled gentry,

the gathering of disparate threads pulled from a constellation of silky spools

woven by a ghastly invisible machine into the officially approved version of education or collective consciousness or Groupthink, or whatever comes first and cheapest.

Teachers complain of being babysitters. Taxpayers complain about paying pensions.

Failed geniuses complain that their school district had no program for gifted education.

No child shall be left behind to take a test without hearing the full explanation:

We are a nation of badly uneducated uncritical thinkers but we are very good at

taking tests, and so if you want to be a successful person

start studying the usual subjects but also study

how to take tests.

It worked for me. Unfortunately for soldiers of fortune, desifinado singers always slightly out of tune, the mendicants and power mongers seeking supplicantsyoung student

at the feet of rulers seated in thrones and at the head of boardroom tables with splendid views – I’m sorry, I say. I apologize sincerely. I learned badly.

You could say I wasted my potential, that by now I should be a CEO

earning 389 times more than the average drone I control.

The systematic mind-shaping business had one fatal flaw back in my day: They allowed young thinkers to stumble unwittingly

onto the awful inevitable, the truth about everything we are taught:

Unless the student applies critical thinking skills and questions the veracity and intention of all she is told

the raw information spat out and digested is merely the latest iteration

of the accepted propaganda that allegedly makes us great.

So I questioned everything. Including the mass inculcation affectionately remembered as

going to school.

And that has made all the difference, as the man said.

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