Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Vegans, Their Problems

There is a lot to eat, no problem.
The past is about eight miles away.
It was maybe a few miles further
in those days, so I hear.  The school
was closer with nothing inside.  My own
challenge came with the dogs.  Something
was horrible, but what?  I didn't mind being
the odd man out.  In fact, I was used to it,
relied on it, even.  Sponsorship of the now.
The pinnacle of sweet being.  How it melted.
How everyone talks about it.  Wool still useful.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Camas Swale Parfumerie

Incense cedars worry
at the edges of the swale
watch multitudes pass
on the road
chained together.

Their feathery eyelashes
drink in the rain
hang up the fog.

They give everything
to keep soil together
twist this way and that.

It is just unclear what to do.
This will be where light is shed.
Tall scholars of air and its perfume
driving men mad with desire then
angry as angry can be
at those whores those trees.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Luminaries Look Forward to the Past

They spell it out at night
exist by day as paper bags
candles inside

but by night they burn
into dreams, into night under
the gateway to the North Umpqua
its wall its tower
Mt. Scott ten miles away
as the raven flies
covered in snowscape huge
every moon a super moon
heavy glob this one
almost an arctic sun
bathing the clouds
bathing the luminarias
I mean farolitos
excuse the mistake
please luminary
regarding the naming
the calling out the remembering.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Migrants And Their Gods

Steelheads climb
up the ladder
look at us obviously
breathing water
at Winchester.  Kings
Queens of the river
clipped tail fins
half moon seal bites:  the red
of the Jacks. Their bodies
made for water, winter,
for running.

I was like this
before.  Saw it was impossible
to steal away
under the cover of bubbles yet
I knew exactly
where I wanted to go, cold work
up to the mountains of labor
of enthusiasm
in the viewing room beside the dam
        The natural underwater home
        of the salmon of the North Umpqua
 rallied my energy  my drive
to get there once again.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Refuseniks

Over time, "refusenik" has entered colloquial English for person who refuses to do something, especially by way of protest.

                                                    --Oxford English Dictionary,(online). Oxford University Press.

suddenly gallop up the hill
Mt. Scott with snow--

up there with Russian olives
no leaves, no shelter, really.

Their outlines like the trunks
of windy trees.  Two horses
one chestnut, one walnut.
Their coarse and tiered manes
muddy hooves, sloe eyes inward.

I will never know them (but)
they will know me.

I try to call to them:  horsey, horsies,
beauty, beauties!  They do not respond
no matter how loud or soft I call.

I will not be theirs
they will not be mine
in spite of summer
when Daisy and I walked up there
with Mom and we could see
Janet had been there--
they had been fed
& I could pet the chestnut
because coming close is still
a kind of wait to go again.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wind Fall

Clock tock quick.  It runs away on skinny legs.  I call it back, want molasses, cheerful, skips away again.  I wish to resemble myself.  Too much at once spoils the soup. Winds like hounds.  Decay halted.  With flowers.  With olden summer.  Not all apples have dropped.  The earth moves on.  It is difficult, resists human effort.  It needs to be medicated, and how.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Good & The Bad Were Good

A letter to the editor I wrote named the look of teachers as suicidal Walmart workers. It was published in the Hawaii Tribune Herald and also Honolulu Civil Beat. The next day, in class, I saw a drawing in a student notebook that had the caption Suicidal Susan.  Someone had read my letter.  Patti Epler, the editor of Honolulu Civil Beat, said she liked my writing.  Now, I have a column that appears every Tuesday called Hawaii Teacher. 

I work in the poorest school complex in the state, a place where it was recently promised that another restroom would be opening up after the break for students to use.  That would make two, then, for 650 seventh through twelfth graders. 

There is an extreme lack of services at the school.  There are not enough social workers.  There is no pregnant teen guidance counselor or class to support those students who would more than likely drop out, perpetuating the cycle of poverty seeping into every pore of the campus.  There are two counselors for students.  There is no transition/college counselor.  There is no counselor for 504 students with emotional impairments/disabilities.

 My 11th grade English class has 32 students in it.  Some students have to share outdated textbooks because there are not enough.  I am glad that I have the number of texts that I do, however.  I am writing this column in order to piece together the things I see and experience in my job as a teacher.  I work with some amazing individuals.  They would rather hold their noses to the grindstone and keep their jobs than speak out.  I do not entertain the notion that I speak for all teachers, only that they daily injustices cannot continue to pile up and pile up without disheartening even the fresh, young/new faces on campus who have replaced abused and burnt-out teachers.  I know of one teacher who is in the last stages of her PhD.  She has a very large family (11 children, plus grandchildren) and her job is very demanding—servicing the severely disabled students. She is not afforded a health aide but must toilet students herself (some physically resemble adults) in dim, crumbling facilities.

Teachers were told lately that they would not get the $1500 hard-to-staff/hard-to-fill incentive at our school if they did not perform satisfactorily.  This leaves teachers not only vulnerable as targets if they speak up at department meetings (or attempt to write a column) but also if they attempt to demand better work conditions.

I have enthusiasm for the students, for their quirks and potential.  I see this potential and their amazing, if often maddening, qualities.  We read, we write.  We read and write together.  We discuss.  They cuss.

I was recently asked if it was difficult for me to participate in the state-wide work-to-rule activity teacher and the union made a point to demonstrate, beginning on November 29th.  I was asked if it was difficult to “shut my door” according to our working hours specified in the old contract.

Not at all, I said.  It was a great excuse to shut the door and walk away from a plethora of problems that a teacher has no business solving or should not even attempt.  Teachers are tired of the sluggish, standstill negotiations.  Teachers need the union to fight like a fierce grizzly.

Because I was exposed to so many different teachers and schools I attended while growing up, I got to see many different teaching styles and methods.  Those I remember the most, taught me right away that that there weren’t any two teachers who were the same, and some of the more popular teachers with the kids I didn’t care for because I had not grown up in those communities:  their popularity had more to do teasing and playing around in class than actually learning subject matter.  I had some teachers who really showed they cared, verbally, and some who really did impact me in unspoken ways by leaving me alone; sometimes by showing cool art films (thanks, Anita Hara) and showing up when I was in the school play (ditto).  Sometimes, it was a comment or question or two that led me to observe their actions (Mr. Connolly, Mr. Ecker) than anything we actually accomplished or read in class. 

Some were to be hated, some were to be loved, and some were to be exasperatingly questioned.  Some were a combination of all of the above.  It seemed, though, that in just a few short months one could get to know a teacher and observe most of their habits.  There were some teachers who seemed to be speaking right to me, even though they were addressing the whole class.  Some teachers didn’t have a handle on anything; they fell asleep at their desks or else were so lax that the class became feral.

What I want to say is that they were just as important to my growing life of the mind as a dozen of Teacher of the Year types.  They were not perfect, some were “horrible” but what happened was that I was forced to consider material, ideas, concepts, and facts for what they were—often at face value, and form the likes and dislikes, my opinions, on my own.

This is not de rigor in the current overload of standardized testing where one size fits all and if it doesn’t, well, just don’t count it. Them.  The students who failed or who might fail in reported data to the superintendent.

I had some great teachers.  They saved my life.  I got to write. This is why I teach, to constantly keep them in my mind, to continue their legacy, their stance in life and to show others that freedom, creative expression, one size does not fit all and democratic ideals are a daily fight, even in an artificial setting:  classroom, students, teacher.  It is a place, and perhaps the only place beside the public library, to rest, to think, to work at and practice the high ideals of the American Dream and its many components.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mystery of the Mystery Machine


The teachers spinning their wheels round and round
The students turning round and round

wound up, the students turning more and more

It goes no place
but frizzle frazzle
Spit out at random

all together too.
Marching forward

Marching along
the acronyms
Did you see them?
all lined up ready to go

the places missed
however it fell then

spinning nothing
from mouths
from more

that was it
what was remembered

Monday, December 3, 2012

Order Tom Clark's New Book, also Ed Dorn's Collected Poems

Clark has a new book out, published in Australia.  It is called, In the Shadow of the Capitol (Pataphysics Books, Melbourne, 2012) and features photographs by Carl Mydans.

 Also out is the Collected Poems of Edward Dorn, published in England (Carcanet Press, 2012) featuring a forward by Jennifer Dunbar Dorn.

Unhappy Happy

Detectives are happy unhappy.  They investigate crimes that should not occur, yet do.  At a school, event planning should not depend on the dates that senior citizens in the community receive their social security checks and teachers their paychecks to go buy a bunch of Christmas junk to support the school.  This is Walmart times ten.  To the nth power. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Who The Bleep Is Tom Clark, Part II

Who The Bleep Is Tom Clark, Part II

I could get a bleep reading most blogs but Tom Clark is ever surprising, and almost apologetic about blogging.  He creates another surprising post, just when you thought he was finis or when he sounds like he'd just as soon find a nice, warm A.T.M. space to crawl into and hide from the elements, there he is--with a new book!  It has photographs by Carl Mydans and text by Tom Clark. 

Tom Clark, In the Shadow of the Capitol (Pataphysics Books, Melbourne, 2012).  It is hardcover and easy to order using Paypal.  I can't wait to look at it and read Clark's words without the glitzy illumination of the screen. 

Also out is the Collected Poems by Edward Dorn, edited by Jennifer Dunbar Dorn (Carcanet Press, Manchester, 2012).  It includes a forward by Jennifer Dunbar Dorn. 

I already informed my U.K. contacts about the star-studded evening launching this book at the upscale Times Bookshop in London next week.  Other jet setters I may have forgotten:  make a beeline to this in order to get your copy signed.  Check out Carcanet's website for information and R.S.V.P.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Walmart Brothers and Sisters I Stand By You

It clunks, it thunks.  Stop work rule.  Work to the law. 
Something like this.  Not an extra drop until teachers get their due.
What would that be?  Hawaii Teachers, calling all teachers!
Rise up against shabby, abusive treatment.  Work to the hour, only.
Can you do it?  Can you stand by your striking Walmart brothers and sisters?
It can be done!  Try it?  Try it now! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

Teacher Little Walmart Teacher

Walmart, Coke, McDonald's.
Hawaii, how much longer
will you stand for this?  Are you
preparing little minds for more?
What is it when one
just can't win?  Or seem to win
or seem to stay afloat
or even breathe easily
for a few moments
there are more to replace you.
Your ideas too expansive
too dangerously expensive.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Who the Bleep Is Tom Clark?

Who the bleep is Tom Clark?  Is he shaman, psychic, or soothsayer?  What is his blog, Tom Clark Beyond the Pale?  Is it a poetry advice column, a wishing well, a poetry encyclopedia?  What the bleep is going on there?  Is Clark the Wizard of Pale?  I mean, beyond that.  Past.  Just one click and your life can change.  It does.  Order his books, study his words; learn more than you ever thought you could.  You’ll become an addict as you read about mummies, kickshaws, sleepwalkers, Los Angeles, the Fur Trade, and so many animals, plants, birds, and landscapes and their poets that your head will spin off its axis.  Then, it will find its center, still wobbling a bit.  Thanks, Mr. Clark; I could’ve used a V-8 except all the salt scares me.  Clark’s poetry and other works; biographies of Beat era poets, criticism, and stint as editor for Paris Review lend pizzazz and verve to an often bleak contemporary poetry landscape of copycats and ivory tower junkies.  Along with writing partner Angelica Heinegg Clark, Tom Clark has generously stepped up the pulse of American poetry over the course of the past couple of years.  These two are not sitting back, resting on their laurel-strewn rocking chairs.  Pitching years at a mean 70+,  the Clarks are calling out the shots, letting rookies into the field to warm-up (and occasionally start) as they lovingly and expertly toss you the ball, right where your eyes should be, too.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Teacher Disobedience Disorder: Diagnosis and Cure

Teacher Disobedience Disorder

Creeps up when you least expect.
Can sometimes be used to advantage.
Eliminates the burdensome element of surprise.
Is often misdiagnosed.
Begins in the mind of a teacher.
Often reported and toyed with by administrators, Race To The Toppers.
Caused by data-drivens.

Is being studied by Texas Instruments, IBM and Microsoft.
Apple is still in question.
The pagentry of education
did not happen by accident, coincidence.
The culture of poverty parades itself
in front of the data.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

End of October Poetry

The moon dips out of the water.
Moon.  Early riser. Windy moon.
Warm moon.  Breezy air.  A song
presses together.  Over the waves.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Teacher Duties Summarized

The sand, the fog, the moths
specific detail edge to edge.
I didn't know dark was so lightless.
Except the moth
furry pink
orange like the cat
on Tom Clark's blog
entrancing, except the antennae
reminding one of outer space
robots, mechanical duty.
Short, fluttery lifespan
about what, ten minutes or so?
About the time it takes
to introduce a lesson,
an anecdote.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Haunted Library

I always told myself I would become a teacher if all else failed.  It did.  It was a feeling of dreaded expectation, a last chance.  I am often asked how long I plan on staying in Hawaii, as if I just arrived yesterday. Today, I answered that I have been here ten years but it has really been twenty.  Archaeologist does not count toward teaching years but it does towards detective years.  One year of sweaty shovel-trowel-broom-screen-notes-mapping-lab labor equals about ten in detective years. 

My too many questions, too many loud opinions, too much, just too much.  Hawaii Teacher has been a good disguise for my real work as detective.  I can pretend to be filling out endless data sheets, observing my peers, being observed, and studying the "standards";  all the while eating countless bags of Cheetos, and still go undetected.  Only I detect in myself an unhappiness when the kids have left the room.  Have I prepared them for college?  It would be nice if they read a book on their own once in awhile or maybe peeked at the Discovery Channel.  It will never happen.  I walk around with my pretty Hawaii State Public Library System bag I bought for a cool fifty cents.  Maybe it will brainwash the students into getting their own cards someday (the Hilo library stays open on Saturdays) and maybe they'll venture into one.  They are not allowed in the one on campus during school hours at our school.  Go figure.  Go figure where all the Race to the Top money has gone.  Spent.  Forgotten.  Plus, they eliminated the school librarian (half-time position) four years ago.

Friday, October 5, 2012

True Poetry Teacher, Mr. Tom Clark

Funny about the word, rue.  It is so small.
Just the t is missing to make it true.

It sounds like a deer.  That is roe.
Diminutive for such a large feeling.
Not a cruel catalog.

The poet teaches more
than he probably realizes.
This is due
to coincidence
and the limits of language
but still.  Uncanny
rule with words.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lonely Florentine Omelette


Well, I waited again for the Bohemian to meet me at the Black Rock Cafe.  She did not show the second time this week.  I am disappointed and learned that life is mainly disappointing in fact if not in theory.  I finally ordered the omelette.  It was very hot and I shook a lot of Tabasco on it like a man would.  The students remind me that this is a bar, after all, Miss.  This is at least half a bar.  I couldn't tell what was happening on the T.V.  It looked like Fox. 

I want to say that the coffee was really hot.  They forgot ketchup.  It tasted good.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Beautiful Mr. Franz Kafka

He sat in a chair, over there.  He was the explorer of inner empires.  A Dadaist by nature and in practice.  I wish he could exist in the modern times we have now and post a comment on Tom Clark's blog.  I'm afraid with his dastardly good looks he would be a musician and therefore lost anyway to history but after another fashion. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Helpful Acronyms for Teachers

The OSSR (still not sure)
took my baby away--
the IT (Instructional Team)
at the PLC (Professional Learning Community)
dipped into the RTTT (Race To The Top) MONEY (regular word)

and it is so so QUIET (regular word)
that my Kindle (not a regular word and somewhat useless) won't shut up
about MID (Monthly Indicator Data) and the CFA (not sure)
don't get me started on my pin, my password
don't ask me which one is which
and which one changed or was changed
in order for teachers to be connected
*not a poem


There are no footprints on the wet sand for her to follow.  A wisp of hair blowing, the stratus clouds, one shiny toenail.  Her hands and feet and legs are like her mom's, her stance and posture.
     There are broken shells like star constellations scattered on that wide wet plain.  She stands on her right foot.
     The western Levi jacket embroidered by Grandma for Dad fits loosely, arms too long.
     Is she crying or smiling?  It is difficult to tell.  Her eyebrows--dark, dusky.  Short shadow more recognizable than just having finished assertiveness training--lots of pockets in the cross-stitched designs--vaguely Indian. She's headed to the Warm Springs Rez in a few days to begin summer school teaching--a catch-up English class.  She fears she doesn't know what she's doing.  The students will present her with a necklace of dentalium shells strung through the handle of a tiny basket.  The basket, empty, that will worry her, big as a womb.  She won't have children--she will be lonely, missing Jerry, at one of the secretary's houses, an AA sponsor where she house-sits, sober and almost burnt down the house boiling water in a kettle that did not whistle.  Almost regretting her whole life--but seeing seven mountain peaks, all volcanic, smelling sage and healing and using the federal government phone line for free after classes.  How it turned out to be kind of easy--how she walked by fields of alfalfa and mint that summer and almost won the hot rod in the Fourth of July raffle there, that summer in Madras, in Eastern Oregon, her single life without Jerry after seven years and all through her master's degree and mom's cancer and her sisters getting married, having kids, all their friends getting hitched except for her.  How her feet never seemed big but there they are in the picture, long like her mom's.  Carrying her a bit further, getting more ideas as she went along, more imagining, more art and beauty landscape.  Everything bare.  I am so dark in dark blue.  I wear the same color now.

Famous Aquaintances

It was a famous idea to be so well-known.  Tina, known for her antics, Corine for being the baby, Mom the stunning beauty, and Dad so unhappy.  Each day we met and it was as if we were a band, getting ready to warm-up or else warming-up for a performance.  The performance was the evening supper, dinner, where we would sit--so hungry and Dad on the verge of exploding.  He would not speak about his job as a social worker, even though we were dying to know any detail.  Any detail at all.  Coors, Bud. 

It was lasagna or spaghetti or tacos.  Tina and I.  Mom was at school--Corine too little and not interested. Mom later at work--Dad, home at 5:30, the same every day--to eat quickly--if Mom was there he be so angry--wouldn't like the food, act spoiled.

Tina always spilled her glass of milk.  Dad was mad.  Milk was expensive but cheap compared to the cartons in Nome that we never bought--only tasting some at our friends' house.  They later moved to Arizona, their dad a pilot for Weins.

When Mom got home, she didn't eat, but when to bed and slept.  She worked as a teacher.  We never saw her except in the mornings when we wanted a ride instead of the bus.  She would be upset, coffee cup in hand, running late.

She was a great teacher.  The kids loved her.  She loved the kids.  She could talk forever to the parents.  She loved to talk.  Period.

I'd help her in her classroom after school sometimes--clean up construction paper, gather scissors and glue--and then whole days during breaks from college when she was going through chemo and wore a wig. 

I hate the wig, it is so itchy and hot, she said.

 Once, she took it off and showed her bald head to her students.  They were very frightened.  She didn't look like the same person without hair or fake hair. 

I'm doing fine, she lied.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Teacher Part II

Part Two of Teaching

It begins and ends with a gesture.  It is complete in and of itself anyway.  Above and beyond this its extra.  There are names for this in a language I tried to study.  The language was Manx.  The sound, mysterious.  It sounds more than likely.  It sounds islandy. 

The main thing about the 9th graders is that you cannot say their names aloud.  It is against the rules.  They are loud ghosts in class.  If you say somebody's name, it makes them into a 9th grader again.  High school is tough but not.  The moster mash is coming up.  There are rumors of a fog machine.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Teacher Zombie Now

What I See From Where I Stand
                When I look around the room, I see lots of faces I do not know.  My students are not my age.  I am their instructor this semester at Hawaii Community College.  Some faces I do know.  There are more than two =people that I do know in this room.  Well, there is one that I don’t know but I feel as if I know him (he is from Oahu and could be any one of a number of young boys/men  I taught when I lived on the Windward Side of that island).  I see that we are lucky in America, we get to do things that other countries are not allowed or don’t have the idea to do.   I see students from the Big Island, I see students from other Islands and even from other Pacific regions in the class.  I see students from the other side of the island, the Kona side.  They are a breath of fresh air in a muggy and hot atmosphere.  They bring the open land with them; they bring the dry keawe and the white sand memories of old Hawaii.  They bring hard work and a positive attitude.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Steps to Evaluate Your Peer Teacher

1.  Don't peer into the classroom, the abyss of bored text messaging.
2.  DO bring fresh coffee, flowers, extra Kleenex.  For the teacher.
3.  Don't stand at the front of the room with a digital device marking things wearing a frowny face.
4.  DO bring cash.
5.  Don't start talking to the STUDENTS.  They will think the class is over only twelve minutes in.
6.  DO ignore anything the students say that is negative.  They do not think their teacher is hot, therefore, anything she does or says will be, "we don't learn anything in this class," and, "we don't know what we're supposed to do."
7.  Don't mention the FUCKING Pacing Guide in your notes.
8.  DO not write anything negative about your peer, even if she did not say hello to you in the hall that one time.  Yes, she did flip you off when it looked like she was scratching her mole, shifting her glasses.
9.  Don't forget to make some secret payments to your Peer Teacher's student loan balance as one of your many random acts of kindness so her parents don't have this burden when she dies.
10.  DO pretend you are not related to the District Supervisor of Schools.
11.  Don't forget what they say in The Secret--anything can be manifested, even learning.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Trial and Error

Watched the sun disappear again!
Moonglow stays all day long.
Days continue with Dagger Time
Character Education Period
nothing goes according to schedule
in the archipelago shift
north and west.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Peer Observation

It is required to go and observe one of our peers.  The contact:  out the window.  

So-and-so did not smile at me when I climbed the stairs to U-Lounge.  Now, I can make a check mark beside the "no" box next to the question about their friendliness, their sociability.  Nobody will ever read the evaluations but they might be used as ammunition, after all, this is America and we are known for our violence, and then our justice.  What else have I observed about my peers?  That they have pouchy eyes and dark circles under them?  That they forgot to brush their teeth?  What are those red eyes?  Yes, I'll check off the box that says their faces look stressed, much like my own.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012


I see them more than I see my parents, my spouse.  I observe their movements and they become as familiar as the landscape of my face, the inside of my car, my pin numbers.   A year spent with them and I do get to know their likes and dislikes.  Some of them hate Teenbiz, for example.  Some do fine with it. 

Tipping Point

Growth Time is exhausting, dull, a heavy weight pressing down to the grave and beyond.

Even the angelic ones start acting up, throw around curse words, papers, their writing implements. 

They claw at each other for things to eat.  I have never been so tired as after Growth Time. 

The dictionary might keep us occupied all year long. 

The poet said to build things like put sticks together and notice things.  I noticed that up close the meadow lark looked like a fierce hawk. You have to  be fierce if you are going for a light touch.  Even the flying suitcase Great Blue Heron seemed intent on packing and unpacking.  There is great joy from the underneath.  The green is opposite of the desert, the desert a negative of the green but just as interesting and full of history. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Teachable Moment

One occurred when she asked what to put down for "city" on the forms students were filling out so they could get college infomation sent to them, whether it was Hawaii.  Well, Hawaii is the state so write that down, I said. We live in the state of Hawaii.  On Statehood Day, we have a holiday.  No school.  We then spoke of native people on the mainland and songs featuring a loom,  deer.  Like fruit of the loom, someone said.  Like dear, another wrote in her journal. 

I was being evaluated again and the form said students were off-task and not engaged.  They were not informed of the learning target or lesson's goal for the day.  If I'm called on the carpet I'll say that I was busy trying to focus on the definition of a city, the definition of a state.  After all, in three years they will graduate.  They will need to know this then. It is not on the Pacing Guide but I took a risk to speak about it. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Area of a Sandvichensis Circle

I feel as if I’m circling around when I signal, pull over, and idle while they climb in.  Mostly male, urgent about the door, more expert about the island than I will ever be.  They know the temperature of the air, if the rain has become mud, if there’s a lava cricket sound or a coqui sound.  Which fruit is dropping.  In my car I do not know these, do not notice.  I get lost in their rushes of silence, remember my new pimples, the rim of the coffee cup.  Glad for N.P.R.  Renee Montagne, Mara Liasson.  Steve Inskeep’s voice more familiar than my own.

The mean astrologer hasn’t been around and I used to pick him up daily.  The one guy from San Francisco who said he remembered always seeing Richard Brautigan “like Mark Twain with his mustache.”  The senior nurse with heavy bags.  The scavenger, Kevin, needing rides to Nanawale to make the coffee before the early meeting.  Michael, a healer, self-described tapper, “up and down the chakras” had a little trumpet tucked under his arm.  The chicken guy with two fancy hens, fluffy legs.  One octogenarian, camping at McKenzie, his dog Hero, groceries, a small can of propane.  Enough for a pot of water, a package of hot dogs. What of it?  What of me just driving past so I don’t get into the same conversations, the resulting gratitude for my steady job, electricity, my dry clothes. An area too rectangular, a landscape where this formula would not work.

Going Undercover Two Years Ago

Hawaii Teacher Detective

 Everywhere I go (especially the office) I am confronted by Richard Brautigan’s ex.  She is at the office, checking in as a sub, she is turning the corner with a bunch of papers, she is putting her hand on my back, reassuringly, when I check my mailbox, looking for new morning mail. 

I refuse to go in the school and help with the academic plan.  It sounds deadly horrible.  All the really terrible choices are clear there.  It is bleak and wearying.  I would barely be able to survive something even remotely like it.  It is amazing how much work is expected of teachers, how much grueling grind in the forefront of working at a school. 

So wearing.  I know how to not be too concerned.  Too tied up.  What is all this?  Al these blasted predicaments.  Do I even know? 

Am I Richard Brautigan?  Am I his follower?  Why did Stan and Susie leave those books with us?  The drama of the classroom is behind me.  These nutty digs.  They become bigger and better.  A real distorted time.  Little and big.

The day, rainy, fuzzy, ill-defined.  Film of the national parks—heartbreaking history and fights, especially with the damned Forest Service.  At least I have a job.  It is a better increment ahead at least.  Any time there’s a glitch, I despair.  Is that what these pages will record?  I’m not sure.  I cannot even tell anymore.  A long way, besides. 

The skimpy day ahead.  I need to maintain a positive attitude. 

Met with Virginia Brautigan Aste again yesterday.  I sort of feel like I need to move quickly in order to behave myself with her.  I might lose my patience or else something else.  But what?  I don’t even know.  The other realm here.  My realm decides my fate.  She repeated a few things.  I should ask her if I should write to Ianthe at least some sort of letter or essay or could our article be that?  I don’t know either.  I don’t know what to do.  Mixing and mashing myself in.

Dagger Growth Time Sandvichensis

At the end of every day we have Dagger Growth Time, G.T. for short, although this sounds like Gifted & Talented, it is not.  It is supposed to be like counseling or character education, mainly anti-bullying or bullying-prevention. It is about caring for the students' well-being.  It is about an hour long and comes from Obama's well-meant Race To The Top funding that the school doesn't seem to know what to do with.

Dagger Growth Time is filled with goals and General Learner Outcomes that the students can recite backwards and forwards.  What they really desire is the action of the parking lot by the state-run library that they are not allowed in during school hours  (no funding for a school librarian). 

A few Daggers tried out the new parking lot area the teachers got kicked out of--it was their new recreation area for playing and not by H-building, thank goodness, with all the middle school congestion there.

After the bell rang and the teachers went to their meeting, it was Wednesday so it was departments, there were two altercations in the newly cleared parking lot.  One boy had his shirt off and another was running away.  A girl was screaming at another girl because a boy had touched her hip.  With his hand.  The principal and security were there and also the rest of the students who were supposed to be waiting for their buses to come and take them home to their far-flung subdivisions.  Ainaloa, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Black Sands, Kalapana, Sea View.  The meeting continued with the mandatory review of the Academic Plan.  There was also some discussion about which grade levels needed the most Intervention with Achieve3000 and the Teenbiz program to practice test taking and reading comprehension.

It is only the second week of school.  I think I've seen five fights just by U-building.  It is the second week of school.

One teacher commented that the testing probably won't go as well with this year's bunch.  They work so slowly.  They need so much extra time.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sandwich Island Comprehension Test

Level 10/12, Form T

didn't know all there was to know about her.

deeply affected.

Lay eggs

builds with silk.

do things he didn't...
did things he wasn't...

basketball moves.

the narrator himself.

doing readily
he had been practicing.

Page 12

suspicious of strangers.
organizing one's world.

artistic traditions.

A coral animal settles...


producing nitrate wastes.
New coral animals.



Comprehension (Continued)

So the job can be done.

spray solutions.
It follows a set pattern.
                factory workers.

She felt unable to relax.

To be protected from
The wind had become

They moved straight...


One noble challenged...
Ladies attending the...

To identify any knights
  who had done...

Excuse a knight from...


become folded.

Chemical connections.

Keep them near
substances that turn...


By fitting it into a...

nothing special.

seemed alive.

It seemed impatient to go.

It was hard to start.

more complicated to fix...

Number Wrong or Omitted
Raw Score

(lines found in Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test) 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Deputy in Charge Part 2

When your teacher is a genius shaman then you better take notice.  Of everything.  Time is short.  If he leaves too soon then do not panic.  Your anguish will be alleviated because he has secretly left his deputy in charge, also a genius, a shaman who will wow you.

You are ready to take an oath but you don't know what you're pledging besides undying love and admiration, loyalty.  Fool--the shaman already senses this.  The seedier sorts of voices speak to you as well and most of the plant and animal kingdom.  Be thankful for these small things.
 But, if you begin speaking of yourself in the third person, it is time for someone to put you out of your misery.  They take care of this at the school.  In a special meeting. Just because you teach English doesn't mean the others are like you.  Well, don't forget, you are undercover.  Or, did you forget for just a moment?  The moment you used your name in the third person even though you detest anybody who would do this, speaks like this. A detective takes note of this. I, detective.  I, robot. 

Deputy in Charge

When your teacher turns out to be a genius shaman then take notice.  Of everything.  Time is short and this will be the case for a long time.

When your teacher is no longer around, do not despair, no matter how enticing the anguish.  He has deputized another.  This is the way of the genius shaman and as it turns out, the deputy one may be just as important as the genius one, sort of like a twin genius shaman.

Listen to the rattle.  It is not especially rattling for you.  Smell the sage, not necessarily prepared just for you.  It turns out to be the case that just in case, your teacher knew this all along.  You were supposed to be listening but missed something.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kickshaw Teacher This and That

If you've ever had a genius as your teacher you realize that there is a point beyond which you begin forgetting yourself, your life, and what you had in mind.  You become what you really were meant to be all along because someone else notices some part of the universe that you concentrate on, admire, or remember.  When this happens laughing and crying are not enough.  Something must be made, fashioned.  Hopefully, it is not a weapon but, o.k., it could be a dream that is made real, material, and left for others to study.  Now, you have been lugged out of isolation for a bit, even if that's where you really dwell.  Your teacher points to the path.  Yes, it is lonely.  Lovely.  Your teacher will walk with you there for awhile.  You may be noticing nuts, berries, but there are other things too that your teacher points out like the present as well as the past that suddenly ran up ahead and beckons to be caught up with.  It calls on a telephone from Vancouver Island and has the patience of a silverback gorilla shopping for kickshaws in a crowded, dusty fair.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Although I had long dismissed it as a cold case, I realized that my Nome files may have to be re-opened, dusted off.  Even on summer break from my "day job" as "teacher" it would only be in my favor to revisit the eyeblink that was Nome, a place known for its Nugget, melting summer streets, and visitors from worlds away.  Yes, I would have to give the Eskimo yo-yo a whirl and unroll the blanket for some light tossing.  The Olympics were in sight now and there was no reason to not get in shape. This all involved sheer mental preparation.  Two weeks of Professional Development (courtesy of Race To The Top) would commence in approximately ten days' time.

Some quick backtrack thinking produced the results of the summer break:  taking care of an new eye exam, glasses, and removing an unwanted cyst from my back.  Plus, that scant trail of evidence left on Tom Clark/Beyond the Pale.  O.K., more than that.  Let's just call it the summer of the wonderful garden and eyeblinks about my other life.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Google Schurz

Google Earth

Going on Google Earth to see the Rez again.  I could not find our house but something that looked like an abandoned parking lot—the state of Nevada?  But then I travelled with the mouse over the hills toward Yerington, toward where Wovoka was born and the feeling I got was a lot like the feeling I had wanted way back then. 
Googled Oregon, up the Umpqua, looking for Toketee Lake.  I can only picture it now, how it was last summer, refreshing when I swam there.  Moon at the tent.
Mr. Schuh, Carol Alpert. Thank you.  My teachers there.  Tom Connolly, Mrs. Worell, Jackie (Lamb), sweet teachers in Missoula.  Mr. Connolly let me and Shawna come in late after lunch, asked us which was more important:  experience or imagination?  I thought experience
back then.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dear Bill and Melinda (Gates),

Please visit my classroom
at your earliest convenience.
Please be our guest speakers

maybe talk a little about gadgets
their use and misuse
about tests and testing
about teachers and their Q
You will need
pepper spray (just in case), lots of pens and pencils (the students don't bring their own), earplugs (but if you are used to hearing fuck off, fuck you, bitch, cunt, you could go sans, go insane) and I suppose some computers would be usefully distracting

and you might need to bring some spare change
for the students
besides the 75 mil for the state
you might be asked if they can 'borrow' some
this, the only amount they will see 
because many do not use their free meal card/bus pass/I.D.
it has been lost
the cafeteria is not entered
at all for most
because they are talking to their friends
well, fighting or filming the fights
with cell phones &
oh yes, there might be a need
for thick skin, a steely gaze
to go with a firm yet caring smile
when the School Design Team, Principal,
On Site School Review Team, and District
come in to check
the current

centerpiece of the Macrohard universe.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer Break 2012

Their pets are getting old and dying.  After sneaking in and out.  My name in Hebrew means Lily.  They are poisonous to cats.  She was a cat named Lily.  Today, she was put to sleep.  Today, I am burying her beneath the Rhododendron out front, pink, that I watered every summer at their house.  Their dog, next.  A sadness all around.  I want this life to slow down, mean something.

The carpets are all cleaned but what does that mean?  Who will care about it tomorrow?  Why do I want to plant things, see them grow?  Why does my life seem over, too, soon, as well?  The young deer in the ditch.  It had been hit, its guts beginning to stink.  A rancher came over to talk about the hay, missing his wife.  Now, his now-lady friend, a lovely woman, too, but still he cries about Deb, about Jake, his Border Collie, eight puppies from Jake, but still, not Jake.

From Big A to Little K

Not quite sure that being called "Big A" is all that flattering (by the students). 
Their graduation--quite something.  The seven ti-leaf lei I made started to smell ripe
in the plastic bag from Long's.  I gave them away and yes

sad to not be seeing them day after day and observing them
more than the faces of my own family
I should know that they are as excited
and lost as I am in the world
of petroleum products everyone thinks
they know what to do with.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Student Perception Data

"Success seems feasible, press for effort, perseverence, and rigor."

about students:
encouragement, support, interesting, relevant, connected, integrated

press, lessons, students with students, about students
are elicited and respected


Why am I here?  The jumble.  The piece, thesis.  I wonder about the fact that the info. was easy to digest.  These things too.  The mandatory experiment to explain the same thing over and over using the same words.
Who knows these anymore? What are these for and what is supposed to happen here?

I remember the other morning as a student, liking and not knowing what to expect and where, when, and why.  This was Ed Dorn's teaching style and way.  I remember caring too much about him and his classes--trying to decide exactly what I was learning--what was it?  I did not especially know.  Another rigamorole, a challenge in that is the best and other day dream. 

Back in February it was winter and it was the same thing that the done deal inside takes on everything.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Teacher Evaluation: What It Is (Not)

The Seven Cs
(care, control, clarity, challenge, captivate, confer, consolidate)

A popularity contest established by research
as a valid and reliable set of measures
focused on issues that have nothing
to do with learning.  A low value
of student and teacher time
and an opportunity to increase
student outcomes
by using their insights
to improve teacher practice.

Focused on issues that have nothing
to do with learning--
an invitation for students to complain.

(Lines found in Tripod Student Survey:  What It Is And What It Is Not)

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Eighth "C" (Creepy)

Will the Real Administrator Please Stand Up?

Teachers are begging: just a peek at the test!  Please
so I may drill
as a dentist would
into their minds
the seven Cs
Because I'm drowning
Drowning in the Seven Cs
They are not
Caution, Creativity, Craziness, Craving,
Cramming, California or Colorado.
No, they are not.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Found Object

This is a musical instrument made on Neptune.  It is dark inside and there are sounds of gold miners making their way to the dredges inside--to the fields--they are carrying heavy packs but laugh at their burdens.  They are as rich as they'll ever be.

This depicts a wolf with white legs or white stockings.  The wolf holds a continent next to his belly.  I remembered his name some time ago.  His name was Bohemia.

This is a doorknob from off the captain's quarters on a pirate ship--this is a round version of a flat world that sinks into the galaxy's teeth like a flat pizza.

What happens next is that I remember going to the store and finding nothing like it ever again.  A draft has opened my door and I wonder if it is the apparition I felt/saw last night while sleeping.

Something creeped around me in the bed, sniffing.  It was small and harmless and then it crouched down on my chest.  It was a black and white cat.  Was it there to tell me to sleep peacefully, that all was well with everything? 

Richard Brautigan's Please Plant This Book weighing heavily on my mind.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lead Me Deceive Me

The dregs of the day unfold in a silly way.  Too many educators and not enough education.  The students smarter than I am, solutions at their fingertips.  Impatient when I speak out loud.  Words. They are spoken too slowly, there is too much listening.  Delete the verbose.  Delete the verb.  If this essay told you a secret about itself, what would it whisper?  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mission: Unlikely

Cooking up trouble has become my middle name.  Especially with the meetings.  Foggy shapes corrode memory as only endless meetings can.  It has become the norm to do nothing and then when one is tired of this the bell rings.  Same at the meetings.  Any move toward aliveness or being alive or action is taken as a threat by the group.   All of the members shift toward the drunk silver back, the one with a loud voice and words.  It must be illegal, somewhere.  My own taxes are going to this.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Learning Targets

1.  Break them apart into smaller categories interchanged with similar terms from other lists.
2.  Scramble and jumble into a comlex set that is a game of Memory, a pile of Chance cards, a robotic Tarot deck.
3.  Don't eat too much salt or consume too much caffeine.  Your face will look like a pillow in no time.
4.  The students fall in the middle part of the Venn diagram.  That is their learning. 
5.  They fall between the targets, between the categories with their dead uncles, sick moms and absent dads.  They are hungry but don't eat their Title One food, would rather smooch by the stairwell than ever enter the caf' they are starstruck by new sneakers and fights they film to review on their phones.  What would happen if the thing in H.D.'s poem came true?  If all of Greece hated Helen so much in their utimate worship of her?  What would happen if this would really be read in the morning announcements?  Would the world exist?  What would happen to the wireless?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Once and for All

Today's Casualties:

Two students left out of Teenbiz.  Reason:  trip to the bathroom derailed by social obligations at the drinking fountain.

Students left out of career presentation:  10.  Reason:  shyness peer pressure.
Senior students without a plan for next year:  35.  Reason:  family.
     I began the day with the usual rituals and soon fell prey to vog.  The nearby volcano makes the residents ill.   It feels like perpetual jet lag or else waking up after being stung by bees.  Hot black tea with honey helps, also, plunging into the ocean repeatedly and pretending nothing is happening also helps.  Unfortunately, when on duty, this is all nearly impossible.  Dickenson, Harjo, Blake, Poe.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Do the pacing on your pacing guides.  Huh?  Another forced mandate.  Another vague directive.  "By the end of the month" doesn't really sound like a reward or paycheck reminder any longer.  The words "pacing" and "guide" hold no meaning any longer.  There must be a technically correct linguistic term for this.  I don't know what it is.  Bogus comes to mind.  So does nimrod.  Pacing on the pacing guides--mixed up semantics and jumbled jargon mish mashing into and obliterating meaning.  What is expected, exactly, except for a mental breakdown in words?  I have no jargon for this.  I have no words.  I only know that this is exhaustive and I no longer see where the hoop is to jump through.  I only see the through part.  I only jump.  The jumping part.  Wait, the pacing part.  Pacing.  Jumping is guiding my pacing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Once you are in the Zone, then you can decide if the students (or yourself?) are product (ego) driven or process (love of learning) driven.  I kid you not.  Well, these are kids, after all.  Turn them around to love learning.  The test goes out the window, then, I suppose.  Who will say this?  Any takers? 

Is this yoga now or am I still being observed by the team who reports to the prinicpal?  Well, not officially.  I guess it seems a lot like a yoga sutra without the pose--physical pose.  Posturing?  Definitely.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Zone of Conformity

Do those students like me?  If they tease me, does it mean they like me?  They will, after all, be evaluating my job, my performance and I know they like everything even, everything fair.  Their pecking order undisturbed. 

Do I like them?  Will someone be able to see me care for them?  Like them?  I am not sure of my caring and how much I care.  Some days I care too much.  They tell me, slow down, Miss, when I ask them to write down the date in their composition tablets.  Is this asking too much?  In the zone of conformity, I smooth out my voice, school my features.  Crinkle my lips in a pleasing primate supplication sort of way.  Am I getting through?  Getting through with my head nodding, eye contact, tilt of my head?  So many questions for them!  They are so very interesting!  Sans sarcasm, sans waste, sans everything.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Race To Do More Paperwork At the Bottom

Dogpile.  Papers on top of papers.  Could be the computer is what I'm speaking about here.  There were two agents sent to investigate the goings on at the institution.  A small recording device was placed in the center of the table and a disclaimer form was signed by all those present.  There was cold pizza and a small plastic bottle of water to be shared? by the "group."  All to be disclosed in confidence, all confidential.  I bit the bait and was reeled in.  Two other humans existed who were interested in the teachers' plight?  Huh?  I spat out something about having no librarian and no real library access during school hours.  Also, the stuff about disadvantaged this, disadvantaged that.  I forgot to mention the bullying and harassment.  Just doing my job.  On the clock.  Part of the plan.  In the works.  Time to ponder.  Reality bites.  Did I just say what I said, only managing to eat two pieces of the pizza and two chunks of pineapple?  Plus, the water.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Testing, Testing, One, Two, Three

There is a question within a question and if you answer all the questions correctly you begin to believe you are finally a citizen, valid, stamped, and safe.  It is not so.  The test changes.  It does not necessarily get more difficult, but it will become more of a test.  That means sweat, possible failure, and possible glory.  It is almost the same as fighting in a war.  A test will become the goal and the outcome--dead body count.  One of those dead may be your teacher.  The war she/he is fighting is also like the test you take.  It is mingled in antics, accounts, boasts of bravery.  Glory or defeat.  Arbitrariness.  Another contract for another year.  There are some moments of peace.  For instance, when a book is opened and read.  The test is not contained within and the answers are not apparent.  The things that cannot possibly be tested but fought over in the gravel parking lot.  Well, I forgot to say that there is some money involved.  A whole lot of it.