On the thin line.

My students are brave and stand on the thin line of daydreaming and a give resistant reality
They just want to be able to breathe a little
Want to expand
Become part of their experiences
I am in awe of them and stand on the thick line between advocating on their behalves and working with their very oppressor
I just want to be able to teach them what I know
Just want to stand in front of a room of hormone filled kids and assure them
They will be okay, that they are enough, beautiful, smart, worthy
That they can doodle on huge white walls
Be referred to as artist not vandal
I want to teach them that they are more than the sum of their parents neglect
That the city walls are not closing in on them
That some people stay
That love is an action word
That community is not obsolete
I want to mean what I say
But money doesn’t grow on trees
And cars don’t drive on passion
And rent doesn’t get paid on possibility
Or faith or good deeds
So I’m told my focus can no longer be student success but rather
“Lowering my programming fiscal dependency”
I hear these words like Charlie brown did his teacher
It has finally occurred to me that we value money over everything truly
And so I spend more time on building relationships with perspective sponsors
Or calculating how little I need to cover my expenses
So I don’t have to abandon the students I just gave hope
So I am not another thing that breaks them just as they heal from broken
I spend less time on lesson plans now
So when my students ask what we are doing today I am moments away from figuring that out
Grade papers like punch in clocks
There are not enough hours in the day to be everything that is required to give them all they deserve
I just want to teach them and finally they want to learn
They dig deep because I assured them that that is where poems grow
And their progress is astonishing
They’ve found friendship in the mirror and support in the most unlike of faces
The newspaper said Pasadena public schools are a pipeline to prison
So now that they have nearly achieved the impossible how do I pull the poetry out of their hands?
How do I begin to explain that race and money affect everything?
That if they were white or in a better neighborhood someone would find funding,
Someone would give funding
Someone would have made damn sure there was some funding
Sustainability is synonymous with success
And I am left breathless
Left speechless
That I seem to be the only one who gives a shit about these poor brown people
Joshua- writes like his life depends on it. Writes every single day.
Maria- is not from here. Is brilliant with a pen but never shares in class is unsure of what the others will think
Hakeem- has a quiet passion for poems. Creates a universe every time he approaches the page
On the weekend they send me poems that were never assigned
Ask to read them to the class they have made safe enough to share the darkest of stories
My throat will not betray my heart
I will not speak disappointment into these walls
Will not watch there faces surrender to the fucked up reality that resources don’t always get to the places most in need
But we will continue
We will create more ways to express
And inspire
And there will be those who join us late in the game
Wont hear the call for action and support until long after we need it but
I will not leave them
I will not be a resource removed
I will stay.
I will fight.
I will write until there is a way.


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