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Among School Children

Posted: September 14th, 2004, 10:14 am
by Zlatko Waterman
AMONG SCHOOL CHILDREN , or the end of summer
( after W.B. Yeats)

( Caution: The Safety Patrol Officer
recommends a re-reading of Yeats’
“Among School Children” in conjunction with
this poem)


( ... /Among.htm)


I open the schoolroom window and the
night air dumps in.
Starlight pours down
the line of juniper branches,
dribbles on satin waves
Naval Station Island
where it rests on the tough yellow chitin
of gull noses decorating the granite scarp.

The late summer dusk
closes like a book
at the kids’ school,
spill out codes on
crosswalks, table manners,

flowers swallow
smell of the wet cardboard
boxes they rode in.


Kids on the floor:

a zombie grownup world of white shoes
staggers at
nose level.

The neighborhood
is still
a practical joke to them
a grin in the mirror
and I
eleven months from sixty
looking for the hand buzzer, the whoopee
cushion of oblivion.

listening to the one- legged gull

over the scree in the dark,

I put on a record and

Handel’s choir hallelujahs me
to the toilet.

I feed the cats,
drowning a hundred ants in
the plastic moat around the Friskies dish.


When I went to first grade
the dirt reddened my knees
and wouldn’t wash out.
No one told me
I would exit this way
still soiled

but for decades I have
expected to be ugly when I go.

The kids and I
are in the same corridor now
just like Plato said--

something about eggs--
their heads are shining white
and so is mine, the slime
of the forever beyond
twinkling hot with stars there.

On the playground under
a wind-warped juniper
we all dance not knowing
root from needle.


It is a small grace
to become the enemy
to learn the crosshairs from
the business end.

We become the enemy,
GI’s from Iowa wrap
their heads in towels and eat couscous
with brown-skinned women
in whose same tents all
generations are born.

The smell of gunfire
carries the thin hibiscus whiff
of baby powder.

Posted: September 14th, 2004, 10:31 am
by Lightning Rod
I read this piece aloud
I lit a Lucky Strike
and I read it again.
very Yeatxian

I love this Z-ko

Posted: September 14th, 2004, 2:32 pm
by Arcadia
"When I went to first grade
the dirt reddened my knees..."

I like it. (I don´t know if it´s because I´m a second and third grade teacher this year).
I´ll read your Yeat´s poem and maybe I´ll reply again.

Posted: September 14th, 2004, 8:30 pm
by abcrystcats
I like the third one the best:

"The kids and I
are in the same corridor now "

and the beautiful comparison with eggs. And the beginning and the end is really the same place, after all ... you stated it so simply and so well.


Posted: September 14th, 2004, 8:38 pm
by mnaz

Very powerful stuff here. Part four reached out and grabbed me.
Part four, to me, seems like brutal, fractured transcendence.

Thanks, Zlatko

Posted: September 17th, 2004, 7:45 am
by Toerag
This was strongern' an acre of garlic old man....well done