Saturday, September 19, 2009

Past Our Hotel

This poem came to be during the spring of 2008 after a trip to Oak Island, North Carolina. I joined in on a large group that hailed from Greensboro, including my sister and several of her friends that I was familiar with. The weekend nights began at the Captain's Cove Motel and culminated in jubilant outings to the beach, where nude sea bathing was all the rage, an activity that has yet to be surpassed in its sense of liberation.

Past our hotel
And down the beach access,
Our feet give way to sand,
Silent as we pass
The marsh with barking frogs
Camouflaged in water that runs
Down from corrugated roofs,
Treeless streets,
Into the gutter runs.

Beneath the clearness of a coastal moon
We cross the interdunal flats,
The sea-oat wall,
Onto the gaping strand,
Where the sand comes
Like a thousand needle-points to cling
Onto our naked bodies; spotless
We present ourselves
Like sweeping vagrants
Through the ruffled surf.

Five boys again, we run,
Hit the tidal rhythm --
Outlines drawn into
And out of a thousand difficulties,
Submerged, mixed and lost in the vortex
Drawn down from island corners.

On the Gravel After I Peed

From July 10th to August 17th I volunteered on a project studying the threatened Maroon-fronted Parrot in the Sierra Madre of NE Mexico. The parrots nested colonially in limestone cliffs, and my duty was to sit and observe and record nest activity, at times from a great distance. Some nesting sites had negligible nest activity, so I would wind up having 8 hours on my bum to deal with. As you can guess, I became adept at alternative activities. I wrote this poem on August 10th 2009. At this particular site I became obsessed with the butterflies, taking advantage of their weakness for urine salts. Enjoy!

On the gravel after I peed,
After the car passed and hit you,
Your forewing lay bent
And the breeze tumbled. You
Clung to my finger, tongue still
Tickling the salts, and green insides
Coming from your tip.
I placed you on my lap, my left hip
And squeezed your head
In the forceps of my fingers
And in a crunch you died.
So feathery, the wind still blossomed
Gave lift along your spine, your scales shedding
On my shorts. In the urine stain
On the gravel, sit six of your kind
Jostling over the wettest spots,
Unfurling proboscis
As I tuck you down beside me,
Press you in a rock crevice.

I don’t like you moving when you’re dead;
It gives me hollow dreams.

This would be the butterfly in question. A Marina Patch.

This would be his kind on my urine. Along with a Goatweed Leafwing.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Power Out, Power On

Subbed for a elementary art class yesterday. 6 periods, each one a different grade, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, kindergarten. The schedule was simple... my only duty was to stick in a video about Eric Carle, who is a children's book author/artist. The show interviews him about his background and has him demonstrating how he makes the art for his books. I watched it 6 times and was fully enthralled each time.

He showed how he made this, his Very Hungry Caterpillar, his most famous.

Unfortunately the power went off to the entire school at about 9 am, causing utter chaos. The video was no longer an option, so I went to the emergency plan and let them draw. While the power was off, I made the mistake of letting the kids go to the bathroom. I had forgotten the dungeon atmosphere of elementary bathrooms, had forgotten that if a 6 year old goes into a pitch black bathroom some bad things will happen. After each bathroom visit I had to contend with a severely traumatized kiddie.

But, I am a master of disaster control, so onwards we go. Time to let artwork explain the rest of the day. During the power outage, one of my 3rd graders brought me this:

She informed me that it was not just a power outage, that in fact the school was about to blow up. This is her representation. I told her that yeah, no, she was wrong.

I had developed a serious headache by the arrival of the 1st graders. The power had returned and the video had resumed, but a problem still existed. The video was 30 minutes long, the classes were 45 minutes long, so I had 10-15 minutes to kill afterward. So I let them draw. The problem with little kids is that they do not follow orders unless you are a complete domineering bitch, so that is what I had to become. They obeyed me, but not without repercussions.

The drawings I began to receive became a bit less cheery. One positively insane little girl handed me a folded up piece of paper as she left the classroom. She whispered "Open it ONLY after I leave."

So I did, and this is what I got.

Oh, the love!

Before the day began, I had dreamed of a calm day where I could goof off with art materials all day. Turns out I didn't get too much of an opportunity to. My one un-finished product is below.

In retrospect, I guess that would be the dungeon school and then a lot of hellfire? Who knows. What a piece of _______.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Sup y'all. So, this is fairly straight forward. Starting right now, I have a 2nd blog. So start following that too, or you're straight bonkers..

Just go to my profile and check it out... The Best of Spit, Pen, and Song... or click on the link to the right.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

You Wiped Your Mouth Quite Nicely

Yesterday I substituted for a elementary autistic class. I had substituted with this class once before last year, and had experience a couple times with other autistic classes. If I am in the right mood, I find Special-Ed classes to be the most rewarding, eye-opening, stimulating of all the classes.

But at the same time, days like these are a frightening load of responsibility, a work day where you are not allowed a single second to relax. Without exaggeration, I was on my toes attending to something from 7:30 to 2:30 non-stop. Whereas this makes the time go faster, it bites back by exhausting you. But, upon reflection, I learned a lot, saw a lot, and the kids are terrific and a lot smarter than anyone would think.

The set-up was this: 5 students aged 5-7, and 3 teachers including me. The game-plan is to have a variety of activities planned throughout the day to keep the kids focused and introduce them to a variety of subjects.

And the stream of consciousness begins...

- Every object of every activity is attached by velcro. The sound of pulling velcro gives me the willies like nothing else. Except for finger nails across newsprint. That's worse. But seriously, I cannot focus with that.

- Music teaches, right? A music teacher comes into the room to sing some songs. It's evident that this happens way too often and the kids are entirely nonplussed. We are supposed to all be singing "You are my sunshine." The reality is that it's only me and the teacher singing. Sweet.

- The music-teacher spices it up by leaving out the word "sunshine" and expecting someone to fill in the blank. As she does it, one kid fills in the blank with "October." No, it's not that odd of an answer when you consider he has been admiring the artistic designs of all the months just to the left of him.

- There are now 2 students left sitting in front of music-teacher. One kid has left and coerced assistant-teacher to sing itsy-bitsy spider to her over in a corner. Another is off alone, bouncing halfway to the ceiling on a therapy ball, grinning, full of joy. The third is screaming and running around the room, resisting the forearm strength of the teacher-in-charge.

- Mantra: A disaster is capable of occurring at any moment.

- One of the kids that is still in front of the music teacher has replaced his chew toy with a wooden drumstick.

- I become fearfully obsessed with being seen through. I am a fraud.

- It's time to go outside on the playground. By going out to the playground this means going to play on the swings. Nothing else is of interest. Here there are kids from other classes as well and our kids have become mixed with the general population.

- I spend the entire recess time pushing two of my kids on the swing, one with each arm. I think my wrists are permanently injured but I hide it, telling each of them that they are birds and airplanes.

- A 7 year old girl asks how old I am. I tell her 23. She says. "Oh, I thought you were 40!"

- I convince one of my kids to get off the swing, as I've become conscious by the line of 20 drooling kids, all rubbing themselves in anxiety, waiting for a swing to open up.

- I spot one kid foraging in some soil.

- I decide that I am strangely qualified to handle the absurdity of all this.

- Back in the classroom.

- Recess seems to have increased the lucidity of all.

- Amidst a round of play-doh and snack time, I witness that these kids are not that different than any other.

- One boy does not like play-doh. It is a well known fact in the classroom that he does not like play-doh. I try and convince him to come in contact with it, and not just roll it out, but then I stop. I realize that maybe he finds it smelly, but he can't talk. Or maybe he finds it boring. Would I want to touch a gross smelling, boring object? Not usually, and that is the truth.

- I overhear the teacher-in-charge commenting on one girl, saying "She doesn't show what he knows." I realize that that is the ultimate truth.

- One kid repeatedly goes and gets on a computer without permission. I overhear the teacher assistant commenting to the teacher-in-charge, "He's testing you." The truth.

Those last two comments opened my eyes a lot. I still don't know what to think, but I think I like it. But only every once in a while.

I still prefer to substitute slack-style, so that I can do things like.... write this post during work. Taha!!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Plato Specialist

Fresh off my return to Chapel Hill and eager to start the money train a rolling, how could I resist? Plato Specialist? High school? Ok. Turns out Plato was not Play-Doh, was not Plato the Grecian, but a computer program that assists learning. Beyond that I still don't know what it means. The only thing it means to me is that the computer is doing the teaching, not me. So, they get on the computer, and so do I. They work, I don't. The best way to relate my day is by a stream of consciousness, period by period.

1st Period:
- Pretend to go to the bathroom and fill my water bottle.

- Girl informs me that she was late because she was reading the pledge of allegiance.

- I listen to "Obsessed" by Mariah Carey three times.

2nd period:
- I start playing Lexulous online.

- Don't bother to say anything to the students.

- Play "hoopoe" for 68 points. My opponent thinks I'm cheating.

- Wringing her hands, a girl comes up and asks to go to the bathroom.

- Sandy J plays "it" for 19 points.

- I take off my shoes.

3rd period:
- I decide to cheat and use a word-builder and play "trave" for 50 points. I'm now beating Sandra W by 97.

- Jeremy the "student" comes into class 10 minutes late and throws a bookbag off of a chair.

- Directed to me, he asks: "What's your name?"

Me: "Mr. K."
Him: "Special K."
Me: "That's right. Eat a healthy breakfast."

- Jeremy starts arguing with everyone around him.

- I say nothing else for the rest of class.

- Jeremy says to the guy next to him: "Why don't you go outside and fight that dog that's been walking around. I'll give you 20 dollars for that."

- Sandy J play "goos" for 18 points.

- Jeremy says to someone else: "If you stop smoking weed you are going to start beating your kids and wish you hadn't stopped smoking."

- Jeremy philosophizing on Facebook's deception: "You see her picture on facebook and they look so bangin. Then you see them in real life and they got a rash on top of their forehead."

- Jeremy's heart-felt, defensive response to someone making fun of his middle name Dewayne: "It's a family name. My brother Tewayne, cousin Berwayne, Dewayne. Ya dig?"

- I play "ape" for 14 points and beat Sandy J.

- Jeremy dropping knowledge: "I've accepted the fact I'm ugly. You ugly and you can't accept it."

- Jeremy gets removed by a counselor.