I walked the halls and looked at all the faces going up and down them and knew all of them were headed for a life-changing ruin of one form or another, while their unconscious lay as hospitalized as I was for six months in high school, back when suicidal ideation was a mother deep down in my psyche always trying to wear the skin of disgustingly kind and innocent sounding girls with secret desires to crush me for their own just as valid reasons, which I equated to the excuses my mother made whenever she didn’t want to acknowledge her abuse of us and instead quivered in praise while she caressed your chin she just got finished belting and told you how special you were and oh how much she loved you. Which is to say I was practically invisible to everybody in high school, except special educators.
Still, while I told myself I hated school a part of me was always using it as a kind of clothing wardrobe within which I could try on a multitude of possible futures and identities. There was always that. If you sucked at math and doing it made you feel like an object to be bought and sold and not a friend to be loved or held close or a philosophy to live by, you told everybody including yourself math isn’t my thing, and that was that, and as an added bonus you and others realized you might actually be interested in a career in philosophy. You could trade in your calculator, ruler and collection of pencils for a public library copy of the Tao Te Ching and off you went until the time came for your next look-at-me runway disguise.
Sadly, I think an epidemic portion of kids today don’t feel that freedom to change on their own terms they did back in the 80’s and 90’s, and whether they know there is a teacher or friend with a shared interest, people suck now and everybody is getting the great dystopia that is coming to them, and to be honest, being a poet, I find I have very little in common with most of the kids I work with and around, it’s like I’m a dead language they are being asked to take and make the best of, while they think I’m not really necessary in their life,
unless, that is, I can entertain them by standing on my head and reciting the pledge of allegiance backwards while trying to blow vowels out of my nose at the rate of machine gun fire (haven’t tried yet), until I’m a deflated, mushroom-like husk, or make a skyfall of ants drop out of a tiny aperture in the sky and sound like sleet down a Swedish roof at the mere attempt at something that might pass for a slapstick and self-denigrating Looney Tunes conversation while choking on a Dorito (Which won’t happen). Then they’re all in.
To them, everybody should be a comedian, and I can already see it that when I try to explain to them that comedy can be a part of poetry, they’ll say explain that again only using exploding fart language, and I can see myself saying something poetically and pathetically acrobatic to them like I just want you to let go of your fear of becoming yourself and finally begin the process of rising into the air of the self like a great stench that hangs up above a great city and would never think to let itself down.
But something tells me, whether higher order reasoning was accessible to them or not, that would go right over them and be lost over the edge of how hard they wanted to try and how far they were willing to see.