Last entry was a dream... dreamt I was back teaching. Life as freeway flyer, community college instructor, yes, and happy to have a job... but what of that time a kid came into my classroom with a gun and _that_ wasn't a dream? And the college wanted to pretend it had never happened, no guns, no violence, no checking in with the instructor.
Student arrives late to class. Keeps his gun out of sight... English 101. I'm trying to do what I can with this class in English Composition. Later I write IT'S A GUN, a lousy poem, but not one I can throw away. What happened? Something like this
Sara's got on earphones.
I make out Mariah Carey
singing, 'I want you, I need you, don't leave me...'
"Okay, Sara," I say,
"tune her out."
'Never be alone at night,
if you're lonely, love will be there', Carey sings.
M n' M, New Yorker,
walks in late,
begins yelling from his seat
at some guy at the door
who's shaking his fists,
but M n' M isn't leaving,
he's staying put, and his friend,
clearly pissed, won't let up. "Mutha..."
waves and yells he's been robbed,
wants his money back,
"Yeah, right. Yeah, yeah. Uh huh."
What are we on about today? I've got this
lesson plan. I mark M n' M late.
"Cool it, cool it..."
I still don't know he's got a gun.
"Let's talk about this outside,"
and the other kid disappears
and M and I step outside
and I tell him to go home.
Actually, he's written this A+ essay
about "murder and bang bang,"
how home was a front stoop in Manhattan,
how he's here for his safety,
how he can't get used to "San-ty Cruz,"
he misses all that bad company.
"Teach," he says, "I'm not goin' home."
Now he's telling Me to cool it.
"You don't know what I got," he's saying.
He's right. I don't know. Then the police
are all around us; turns out
the room's barricaded. How did I know?
Murder and bang bang. Mariah Carey singing
'It's a gun, it's a gun.'
"It's A Gun" reprinted from CALIFORNIA PART-TIMER, CCFT, AFL-CIO, Fall 1998, Vol. 10, No. 1.
CALIFORNIA PART-TIMER, CCFT, AFL-CIO, Fall 1998, Vol. 10, No. 1 "It's A Gun," poem.
Reprinted in CCFT (Santa Cruz/Monterey) Newsletter, Dec., 1998.
One reason the poem, such as it is, falls so flat is there's no fucking emotion... what the author really feels is hidden, doesn't find its way into the poem. What's the real emotion? Rage at the college for not leveling with me, for its willingness to put the lives of my students' in danger, how only days later did I learn what really happened and that from a local newspaper.
A poem? No. Hell, no! It's an anecdote, a paraphrase of what I had originally intended. I don't even make clear that the kid with the gun was my best student, the one with the most potential to become a writer. And, being from New York, he said, made him really uncomfortable with nature, like our college's newly mown grass.
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