RECYCLED POEMS:

Special Internet Encore Addition

 

Back to Fiction
Onward to Part Two

by Daniel Richard Fruit

RECYCLED POEMS:

San Francisco; Jamaican Sands; and Poems You Could Learn From

Daniel Richard Fruit


Remembering Bob Marley



This is a collection of poetry. Any positive resemblances to works better than this or more famous should be reported immediately to the author.

Original Edition

Copyright 1990 by Daniel Richard Fruit

Revised Internet Edition

Copyright 1998 by Daniel Richard Fruit

Published by the House of

Witney. Barney, and Laramie. Limited.

 

Dedication:

I dedicate this poem to all those hard-working poets that I taught who kept forcing me to get better and to my poor. noble, dear old mother. always the first poet in our family.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 
Introduction or the Perils of Poetry p. 6
Critical Reappraisal by Thaddeus Maxtomer p. 8

PART ONE: POEMS YOU CAN LEARN FROM p. 9
JAMAICAN SANDS p. 10
I KILLED HIM p. 10
COME DANCE WITH ME p. 11
THIRTY POEMS IN SEARCH OF MEANING p. 11
THE PAPER SAILOR p. 12
HAUNTED CLASSROOM p. 13
TARDY WOMAN p. 14
GHOSTS p. 15
DETENTION DAY p. 16
RAPMAN (original version) p. 19
SHADOW p. 24
THE END p. 25
LET THEM DREAM FOREVER p. 26
FIGURES IN BLACK p. 27
SHE'S LIKE THE DESERT p. 27
I WANT TO THANK YOU p. 28
WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LEARNING p. 30
THE BLACK CALIPH p. 36
A SHIPMASTER'S FAREWELL p. 37
STRANGERS IN THE CLASS p. 37
NEW VISION p. 38

PART TWO: JAMAICAN SANDS p. 39
WHERE ARE YOU GOING? p. 40
I GUARANTEE YOU p. 40
YOU CAN GET IT IF YOU REALLY WANT p. 40
HER KIDNEYS DIDN'T WORK p. 41
ONE ANXIOUS PARENT p. 41
JAMAICAN SANDS p. 42
NOONDAY AT THE REGGAE CAFE p. 42
GANJA MAN p. 43
HELLO STRANGER p. 44
ALONG THE QUEEN'S HIGHWAY p. 45
THE JAMAICAN ECONOMY p. 45
TALK TURKEY MAN p. 46
NOON DAY AT THE OCHO RIOS CAFE p. 47
BYRON LEE AND THE DRAGONNAIRES p. 47
WRITE TO ME p. 48
HEMINGWAY HAD IT HARDER p. 49
FLOATING p. 51
COOL RAIN p. 52
TOTALLY IRRELVANT p. 52
DANCING WITH THE REGGAE QUEEN p. 53
THE PROUD MAROONS p. 55
THREE SQUARES AND A BEECH CHAIR p. 57
MORGAN DIED OF CONSUMPTION p. 57
GREAT JAMAICA AT ITS HEIGHT p. 59
OBEAH (Black and White Magic) p. 60
OH JAMAICA, YOU FOOLED ME AGAIN p. 62

PART THREE: SAN FRANCISCO p. 63
SATURDAY: ARRIVAL, FIRST IMPRESSIONS p. 64
SUNDAY: VIRGINS, CHINATOWN, AND DAVID'S PLACE
p.68
MONDAY: THE BAY AND PALLACIO DEL ART p. 72
TUESDAY: NATURAL HISTORY, EXPENSIVE GARDENS
p. 75
WEDNESDAY: THE TROLLEY, ALCATRAZ, THE ZOO p. 79
THURSDAY: DEPARTURE p. 83
THIRTY YEARS AND SHRINKING p. 84
ABOUT THE AUTHOR p. 85
ORIGINAL BACK COVER p. 86
AN OLD CAR NEVER LETS YOU DOWN p. 86

 

 

Introduction or the Perils of Poetry

 

You may ask yourself why I've finally brought together the scattered fragments of my poetic cannon. The reason is simple: demand. I began to realize that everyone else was "tipping me off." reading my poems, collecting my work, except me. I once told another teacher "A good poem is a terrible thing to waste." and yet I discarded my works as though they meant no more than the paper I wrote them on.

The feeling that my work should be preserved began when I started noticing my students copying my poems that I'd written just to demonstrate how to write whatever poetry form we were writing. Later, they'd turn in whole lines lifted from me. Then I'd meet members of the school faculty, and they'd be saying:

"Boy, I really loved that poem you wrote for Mrs. Barf's retirement. We laminated a copy for her. Could you sign it?"

Then kids would meet me in the hallway reciting one of my raps from one of our school skits:

"Hey Rapman," the kid would say:

"Well I'm Rapman and I'm here today
To stop the criminal's from getting their way.
I'll scrape the scumbags offa every back street
'Cause the Rapman is too tough to defeat."

Then one night at one of my teacherly classes I showed a copy of a poem I was writing for the introduction to the school's annual poetry book to another teacher.

She said: "That's beautiful. Do you write poems for your girlfriends?"

"Na," I said.

"No wonder you're still single."

Perhaps the final deciding moment, however, came during the last week of school. I was so bothered by girl's coming late to class that I composed a little song, based on Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman," called "Tardy Woman." and I discovered another teacher had run off a class set to have her students sing together.

If everybody else is going to rip me off, I'm going to rip myself off. Hence the title for this volume because all of these poems have been around once before. Some I've read only to myself, and many I've read in public. Some follow in the footsteps of America's greatest poets, Whitman, Longfellow, Springstein, Dylan, Seager (Bob), and Dickinson while other march to the beat of that other drummer. I seriously considered calling this collection "Resurrected Poems," but I didn't want to overstate my talents. On the other hand "Collected Poems" suggested I was already in the grave. "Recycled Poems", on the other hand, while sounding slightly hip tells the reader all the grubbing I had to do through old computer discs and molding manuscripts.

To do these poems justice, they must be read OUT LOUD. For. if I have any redeeming qualities as a poet, it's that my poems sound better than they read. Some, though, might be best read out loud some secluded area such as a soundproof booth or a restroom.

I wrote "San Francisco" during a trip to that city. The idea occurred to me when I realized that guys like Byron used to write epics concerning every trip they ever took. If they could do it on pencil and paper, I could certainly do it on my IBM PC.

For "Jamaican Sands" I simply wrote a group of poems about my experiences in Jamaica, most musical of the Caribbean isles.

"Poems You Could Learn From" compiles most of the poems written

between 1989-1990 while I worked at Stevenson Junior High School.

Welcome to my trashcan.

 

 

A POWERFUL BEGINNING:

 

It's seldom that I have the chance to introduce a major new voice in poetry. This is not the moment though I think this volume offers a lot of interesting work.

It seems something of a moot question, again, as to whether Mr. Fruit is really a poet or a prose writer. Certainly such works as The Plastic Tomorrow and, of course, When the Bugles Call My Name, offer a vision that seems that seems to transcend the typically droll voice of prose. Whether the words really constitute poetry, or the promise of poetry, however, is another matter.

The volume here really attempts three different things. The first few poems offer nothing more pretentious than the poems themselves. Personally, I enjoy some of them much more than others, and typically the less-adorned ones the more. Stand-outs probably include the tight "Jamaican Sands," the comic classroom "Haunted Classroom," and the much-performed "The End." The short plays, Rapman, Detention Day, etc. here function as comic relief.

The second part attempts, in verse, the kind of tour book that Mr. Fruit attempted, with a bit more assurance, in the prose classic The Thin Red Line. Certainly, Jamaica offers a suitable setting for the typically Fruitian contrast between grimmer reality and lustering image. I think it says something, however, when in a volume of usually autobiographical poems, the standouts constitute poems written in the third person, i.e. "The Proud Maroons," and first person, albeit with a different first person "Obeah." A lot of the "talking poems" function more as experiments with the form than genuine works, but they show some attempts to stretch the concept of a poem, kind of like converting a Hemingway conversation to verse.

The last section, "San Francisco," seems the most experimental of all. At times, I'm simply wondering how Mr. Fruit can continue to tell a story, one that often features little action, in iambic pentameter for canto after canto. The best cantos, ironically, feature fairly straight-forward description, such as that of Chinatown, on Sunday, and the museums, on Tuesday, in which nothing happens whatsoever.
Whether it's a real epic, or even a good one, I'll leave to readers' judgment.

In conclusion, then, Recycled Poems, offers some good work. Clearly, Shakespeare Doesn't Work Here offers more mature visions and the better point of departure for the casual reader, but you could do much worse than reading this book of poetry.

 

Thaddeus Maxtomer

 

POEM YOU CAN LEARN FROM

 

 

JAMAICAN SANDS

The beaches here are clean.
The spotless coastline of Jamaica.
Worn white by patient grinding.
The ceaseless labor of the waves.
To emerge fluffy to the touch.
Like a downy feather bed.
Inviting you to lay your head
And tan your mind.
Forever


Simply gorge a handful of the earth.
Or drop a single. soiled can of soda,
Man a castle. garrison it with men.
And it is not the same anymore.
You might try to leave your footprints.
Like astronauts upon the moon.
The sea will come and take them back,
For nothing lasts.

Forever. ....

 

 
I KILLED HIM


I killed Him.
I killed the Emperor of Baghdad
With a swift movement of my hand
I put him surely into his grave
When I deftly closed his book.


I killed the television newsman,
When I hit the channel changer
I'd watched for thirteen hours,
But the news kept getting weirder.


I killed the screaming rock and roller,
When I dared to turn the switch
The sound that he was singing.
Just didn't do a thing for me.


I killed them all, I tell you now,
Though they might want to call me friend.
And if you stop reading this poem
Then you can spell my end.

 

 
COME DANCE WITH ME

Come dance with me.
You looked so gorgeous standing there.
The neon lights reflected in your hair,
A vision of golden, lace, and white
Standing out beneath a mediocre night.

Come dance with me.
For I've so many awkward moves I do
Like Fred Astaire, I'll show them to you,
For there is nothing then I could've said
That might've made you turn your head.

Come dance with me.
We'll make our move just coming through the door.
We'll plant our footsteps across the floor.
You will look at me, and I will look at you,
For when you're dancing, every song is true.
 

THIRTY POEMS IN SEARCH OF MEANING

Or reflections on my fifth creative writing class

So what was that supposed to be:
Why were all those students there.
Was there some order to their madness
Tell me why should I want to care.
When I hear thirty poems in search of meaning.


Some songs they sing are violent
With the anger and illogic of youth.
Sane songs they sing are more gentle
With the gracious mean of truth.
I speak thirty poems in search of meaning.


A handful of papers and grades.
It's just marks and lines that I see.
Or is something that makes me wonder
Whether the real student has been me.
And I am thirty poems in search of meaning.

 

 

THE PAPER SAILOR
On Considering My Years as an East Los Angeles Teacher

Jagged lines of black.
That scar a hallway wall.
To leaves a criminal's mark,
But no humanity at all.

I'm just a paper sailor.
Sailing over a sea of white.
Hoping that you will come with me.
As we steer through the night.

Another layer of caked on make-up
That mars an otherwise pretty face
Some teachers says to "be someone"
And she says "Just, get off my case."

I'm just a paper sailor
Gliding through a sea of gray.
Hoping that somehow you hear me.
So I know that I was here today.

Another boy is tuning out.
He says that school is not enough fun
He throws a pencil through a window.
And then he attempts to run.

I'm just a paper sailor.
Wondering if the port is near.
And time we can float together
Through the darkness and the fear.

And then I hear the sound of laugher.
The smile of a remembered song or rhyme.
The illumination of a mind
And I hope still there may be time.

I'm just a paper sailor.
Seeing a blinding light that's true.
Just stay with me. and we'll be there.
And I will see the real you

 
 

HAUNTED CLASSSROOM

I met a ghost at Stevenson.
He haunted classroom 108.
He came each day at 8:00
And never came a minute late.

He'd sit down at the teacher's desk,
Where I so seldom sat,
He'd send a scowl across the room,
Any time he'd see a brat.

He'd read the writing on the walls
and sneer at "Stinky Number Five"
And tell the students there to graduate
As though he really were alive.

I kept wondering why he came here.
Why wasn't he up in Heaven or in Hell?
And finally one day I asked,
"Have you some kind of story to tell?"

"You had me several years ago.
And failed me, here, inside this room.
So now I sit here sentenced.
Your classroom as my place of doom."

I grabbed a book and a paper
And gave a seat near the front of class.
"I see there is a Heaven," said I.
"For you still have a chance to pass."

 

 

TARDY WOMAN (with apologies to Roy Orbison)


Sing along with Roy.

Tardy woman. walking down the hall.
Tardy woman. she's been at the mall.
Tardy woman, why can't come to class on time.
So i don't have to make these rhymes?
(guitar part) Tardy Mercy

Tardy woman come to class.
Try to go and move your --self;
Tardy woman don't dawdle like a foooool.
Tardy woman you're late again.
Tardy woman where have you been?
Tardy woman say you'll come to schooooool.
Cause you're failing:
You make me get real mad.
Cause you're wailing;
You want to be a gra-dddd.
(guitar part)

Well if you want to be late okay.
You can come some other day.
(guitar part)

Wait what's that see?
Does she want to clean for me?
Yes she wants some paper towels.
So she can tidy up the walls.
(guitar part)

Tardy woman coming in the door.
Tardy woman you can clean the floor.
Tardy woman you join the clean-up crew;
That's just what I will have you do.
(guitar part)

Ohhhh. Tardy woman!

 

 

GHOSTS

A met a boy in shirt and tie
He'd been with me my first year.
He explained international banking
Was his future choice of career.
A met a boy in black and whites
A sorry soul from homeroom 108.
He told me about his friend who died
Because the gangs exist to hate.

(Chorus)
Do you see those teenage ghosts
Those shadows staring at us now
They never say a word to us
But they speak proudly somehow.

A met a boy from Tusitala class
The greatest poet I'd ever had.
He wants to become an engineer
How could I tell him I was sad.
I met last year's coordinator.
She'd hardly changed a line.
I asked her how she was doing.
She paused and just said "fine."
(chorus)
 
The graduates are lining up on stage
They fidget with their bows and ties
They talk about their tribulations
And dream of their future lives.
Where do they go, these minds of mine.
The district lends me for a year.
Most go away and make me proud
But a part of them is always here.
(chorus)

 


DETENTION DAY

 

CAST OF CHARACTERS
MR. FRUIT, a veteran English teacher
MR. DAY, a new ESL teacher
JOSE, a chollo, i.e. a gangster dressed in baggy pants
JANET, a good student who just didn't do her work, dressed well
JUAN, an average student but something of the class smart alleck

SCENE: Five students sit around a semicircle of desks around Mr. Fruit's classroom. Mr. Fruit is grading papers. Three students are loafing while another is working.

ANNOUNCER: Its another typical day in Mr. Fruits class at 2:20 when the bell rings.

JANET: That's the bell. Time to go home (She starts picking up her books).

MR. FRUIT: It's three twenty. Your day doesn't end until 4:00 (He sees another student throwing paper on the floor). Juan. go get that piece of paper. (The boy starts to pick it up); Paper is your friend.

JOSE (dressed in t-shirt and jeans like a "chollo"): Maestro loco.

MR. FRUIT: Janet. what's that I see in your mouth?

JANET (very studious looking): Oh sorry Mr. Fruit.

MR. FRUIT: Gum? Scrape. (She gets on her hands and knees and starts to scrape. Mr. Day, another teacher, enters wearing a long white coat)

MR. DAY: Well Mr. Fruit, another long afternoon?

JUAN: If it isn't the Beanpole.

MR. FRUIT: Be polite, Jose, or I'll call your Mom.

MR. DAY (looking at the students not working): I'm surprised at you ail. Mr. Fruit is giving you his valuable time at detention, and you're not doing anything!

JOSE: Que gaucho.

JUAN: Mr. Fruit doesn't like us anyway. He doesn't like students at all.

MR. FRUIT: That's not true. I just like a certain type of students, whom you'll never see at detention.

JUAN: Who's that?

MR. FRUIT (looking at Day): Should we tell them?

MR. DAY: Go for it. (Day drops his rod and Fruit stands up. They're dressed in shorts and shirts. They each put on a pair of dark glasses. They grab mikes and address the audience)

BOTH(chorus):

We like the kids. the kids that do their work.
Were Fruitee and T-Day so don't act like a jerk.
We like the kids. the kids that act right,
So don't act like a fool, or you will stay here all night.


MR. FRUIT(stepping forward):
My name is Mr. Fruit, and I teach English class.
I think destructive students are a pain in the...
I'll teach how to think and command your attention
And if you don't do it, then I'll give you detention.

You II learn to write sentences that have the right ring.
And when you know grammar, you will feel like a king.
You will feel just like Shakespeare when you write a fine poem
And if you don't do it, then I'll send a note home.

BOTH: Repeat the chorus

MR. DAY:
My name is Mr. Day. and I teach ESL.
This isn't English class as you can tell.
I'll teach you language as well as anyone can.
And if you are a boy, then I'll make you a man.

You'll learn about sentences and paragraphs too,
And if you don't understand, I will try to help you.
But it you cross this teacher or you stand in my way
Then you'd better watch out cause you'll "Make my day."

BOTH: Repeat chorus(They land on their knees like Jolson and freeze in the center of the stage.)

MR. FRUIT: Now do you think you understand?

JUAN: It we say yes, do we get to go early?

MR. FRUIT: No, but if you say "no," I've got a little present (He holds up some forms) invitations to come back. Now Let me see your work.(Janet holds up a whole notepad full of writing. Jose holds a paper airplane, and Juan holds up a paper with his name in giant letters).

JANET: Let me see if I have it right..(other kids join in).

They like the kids. the kids that do their work.
They're Fruitee and T-Day. so don't act like a jerk.
They like the kids. the kids who act right.
Now our work is all done, so we go home tonight.

(As the curtain closes. and the two teachers bow, a whole barrage of spitballs hits them).

 

RAPMAN (original version)


CAST OF CHARACTERS
RAPMAN, simply the greatest superhero of all time
ROCKIN, his heavy metal listening partner
THE COMMISSIONER, an overworked stressed out bureaucrat
THE CHIEF, the actual head of the police force
LEADER, head of the bad guys
OTHER BAD GUYS, two or three other similarly minded scoundrels

 

SCENE ONE

ANNOUNCER: It is another stressful day in Gotham City The Commissioner and the Chief of Police are discussing the city's greatest crimefighter. (Two men are seated at a table. One is wearing a suit with a cheap tie. The other man is wearing uniform.)

CHIEF: I tell you he's a great man to have an our side

COMMISSIONER: And I tell I you he's a bumbling idiot'

CHIEF: What about the Riddler? Didn't he put him behind bars?

COMMISSIONER: Chief, did you read that report without your glasses?

CHIEF (putting on his glasses): Oh. he took the Riddler TO a bar. Bought him a few rounds too (drawing a folder from his desk). Still, I think is a job for (he reaches for a black phone on the desk).

COMMISSIONER: Don'ttttttouch it. I tell you, don't touch it.

BACKGROUND NOISE: Pm pa bum bum.

CHIEF: It's too late. It's..

BOTH: Rapman.

(A man enters the stage. He is wearing suspenders and a white shirt. Over his back, he wears a black cape. On his t-shirt, there's a giant "R" for Rapman. For a hat he wears a baseball cap with "Rapman" written with letters not aligned (i.e. some higher and lower. At his side is a man dressed in saggy levis and a tie-die

BOTH: Its Rapman.

ROCKIN: And Rockin.

RAPMAN: (chorus)
I'm Rapman, and I'm here today
To stop the criminals from getting their way.
I'll scrape the scumbags offa every back street
'Cause the Rapman is too tough to defeat.

COMMISSIONER; Let's get him on the bank robbery case.

CHIEF: So he can use his special mental powers?

COMMISSIONER: No. to get rid him.

RAPMAN
Just tell what's wrong, and I'll be on the scene:
I can be tough: I can even be mean.
Just hand me the case. and I'm ready to ride.
Cause the Rapmobile's parked just outside.
(starts chorus..)

COMMISSIONER: (interrupting Rapman by shoving him the case) Here, get out of my sight.

ROCKIN: Heavy duty man.

 
SCENE TWO

ANNOUNCER: Rapman and Rockin proceed out to the parking lot.

ROCKIN: Hey, man you want me to cruise the wheels (He points to a pair of chairs in the center of the stage.)

RAPMAN:
When a car has a supersonic turbocharged eight,
Well. the driver of the car had better be great.
I can get us here quick and bring us back alive.
And not only that, you only have a permit to drive.
Cause I'm Rapman.....
 
ROCKIN: (interrupting) Far out.
(They sit down in the seats and Rockin pulls up a cardboard cut-out of a car with "Rapmobile" written in weird letters).

RAPMAN: Seatbelts (They buckle imaginary belts.) Goggles. (They put on imaginary goggles).

ROCKIN: You want me to put on K-rock?

RAPMAN: Pum pa pum.

ROCKIN: Oh well. Engine

RAPMAN: (Making all engine sound effects) put-put-pa.

ROCKIN: Engine!

RAPMAN: Put put. Vroom. Vrooom.

ROCKIN: Forward!

RAPMAN: Vroom. vroom (they lean back in their seats).

ROCKIN: Left (they both lean right).

RAPMAN: eeeee

ROCKIN: Right (they both lean left).

RAPMAN; eeee

ROCKIN: STOPP!'

RAPMAN: Eeeeirrrrrrrrr (They both fall forward. Then Rapman turns towards Rockin).

ROCKIN: Sorry man. I saw a cat. Engine.

RAPMAN; Vroom. vrroom.

ROCKING; Forward.

RAPMAN: errr

ROCKING: Faster

RAPMAN; ERRRRR

ROCKIN: Faster.

RAPMAN: ERRRRR!!!!

ROCKING; STOP.

RAPMAN: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! (They fall forward and land on their knees. They start dusting themselves off .)

ANNOUNCER: Meanwhile the evil villains were proceeding to rob the Last National Bank. (The three villains are wearing striped suits. They carry green bags in their hands with big dollar signs written on the outside).

LEADER: Well. well. well. if it isn't the dynamic fools.

BANK ROBBER 4 (very stupidly): How did they ever find us?

RAPMAN:
Finding you creeps was no great mental job.
We drove straight to the only bank you haven't robbed.
Now you'll give yourself up if you really know what's smart.
'Cause when it comes to fighting, I'm a master of the art.
(starts chorus)
..
LEADER (interrupting and motioning to his henchmen): They're no match for us. Get um!
(The fighting begins and Rapman and Rockin fight in comic fashion and slow motion. Whenever someone punches, they say "Pow" or "Boom." Finally Rapman, after multiple blows, takes a deep breath and blows over the final henchman. Rapman starts to move forward, and the leader takes out a gun.)

LEADER (in a high voice) Pow. Pow. (Rapman keeps coming towards him, so he tries again, in a lower voice) Pow. Pow. (Rapman keeps coming, so he starts screaming): Pow! Paw! Pow! (Rapman falls).

CHIEF (running into the scene and taking the gun,. Oh no. they've killed Rapman.

RAPMAN (getting up and dusting off his shirt):
Well there's something that I oughta get offa my chest:
That's underneath this shirt I wear a bulletproof vest.
So it you wanna take this superhero offa your case.
You'd better shoot straight and hit me in the face.
(starts on the chorus)

COMMISSIONER (grabbing the gun from the Chief): Those lines again. I can't stand it. (He runs to Rapman's side and holds the gun to his head). This is for music. Boom! (Rapman falls to the ground and dies, after overacting).

CHIEF: On no. You've killed Rapman and Rap in Gotham City.

ROCKING (looking around carefully):
Well you've killed Rapman with a bullet from your gun,
But there's a powerful tradition for a man to carry on.
I've got my lines ready, and my rhythms are on tap
'Cause Rapman may be gone but it's my turn to rap.

RAPMAN (sitting up): Pa pa pa pow.

EVERYONE (in fright): Rhhhhh!

ROCKIN (watching the others clear the stage before going himself): Weird trip man.(He runs off).

RAPMAN (to the audience):
Now there's a moral to the story that you've heard today,
And if you haven't guessed is that crime doesn't pay.
So it try to commit a crime, or you try to pick a fight,
Then you'd better watch all 'cause I'll be rapping you right.

Cause I'm Rapman, and I'm here today.......
(The curtain lowers and interrupts).


 

SHADOW

Worn photo in an album
A faded face from long ago.
Was that someone really special
Or someone I did not know?

chorus:
A song that is unwritten
The lines perished in my mind
What was is that I said to her
Did I leave my soul behind?

Oh shadow in the alley
Will you come and speak to me.
For the evening seems unending
And I'm just too blind to see.


Shadow can you hear me.
You've been following me all night.
Shadow don't come near me,
Or you will perish in the light.
(chorus)

 
THE END

I'm getting up to answer the phone.
The bell is ringing at three o' clock;
It's someone off in Baghdad telling me
"We have an opening here in Iraq."
My name goes round the cafeteria
And colleagues want to grasp and shake my hand.
It's seldom that they see a mental case
A future hostage in a foreign land..

(chorus)
It's seems so hard to say good-bye.
You feel so strange, but you can't say so.
It seems so hard to say good-bye
If you never really said...Hello.

It's seems I came here only yesterday
Or have I taught here one hundred years.
The flow of adolescents unending
While I lie motionless, fuels my fears.
I'm sorry if I have offended you.
I really didn't want to fight that much.
I'm sorry if I have befriended you.
We comic introverts most fear to touch.
(chorus)

My students made me legally insane
For which I heartily would thank them all.
For I so need their dose of zanyness
Or I'd be no more human than the wall.

Now there's a moral to the story that you've heard today.
And if you haven't guessed, it's that teaching doesn't pay.

On them I've forced my greatest dumbest gags,
If they've learned anything, I do not know,
I project on them my fondest hopes and dreams
Because from then I get my strength to grow.
(chorus)

My sister says in Heaven she will dance,
And Islam says the men will drink and bet,
And Buddha says we fade into unconsciousness,
I need a role; don't check me out just yet.
So when you see some special telecast
Don't look for me beneath some Shiite's gun.
I'11 be too busy with my books and tapes
Astride my camel chasing the purple sun.
(chorus)

 
LET THEM DREAM FOREVER

They dare to say "I Love You."
And relationships last forever.
And friendships are bound with tennis shoe laces
That. like Nikes, never. ever break
Let them dream forever.

They can be a doctor if they want
Or they can fly off to the moon.
They can bust all of the drug dealers in a lot
And clean the streets for good.
Let them dream forever

They think that their house is beautiful
And their clothes are the best in the world
And their teachers know everything there is to know
Even if they're a little bit senile.
Let them dream forever

They can hardly wait to be mature adults
To get their spouse and two children
And experience that television happy ever after
That happens after the commercials.
Let them dream forever.

Let them dream forever.
Let them chase the stars in the sky.
For when they find their hands are empty
Then they're going to wonder why.

Let them dream forever.
Let's keep our mouths shut about the truth.
For soon enough they find all out
And lose the freshness of their youth.

 

FIGURES IN BLACK

Five figures dressed black
Speak out to me today.
They sing a future song;
Or talk of yesterday

"What's behind the smile." she asks.
Well how am I supposed to know'.
Yet Gina says exactly what she feels
And makes my lies seem so low.

I wander round through Lara's lines
A man could lose himself in mire.
The words she chooses sing a sound
That fill her lines with frozen fire.

And Jessica tells me of her "Friends"
I guessed she'd have a lot to say.
If I could write with her simplicity
I'd make new pals with every day.

And Sonia whips her words like wind
And speaks of witches' curses
She writes so fast she writes words wrong
But errors can't disperse her verses.

Roxanne is afraid to show her peers
Bright lines she sometimes calls no good.
If I could only steal away a line or two
Unseen, You know I think I would.

You know I'll steal from all of you
What can a poor poet like me do
When all he has is stress patterns
With which he has to face the true.

Five figures dress in black,
They speak to me today.
They sing a future song;
I sing of yesterday.

 

 

SHE'S LIKE THE DESERT

She's like the desert.
Hot barren grains of sand,
They all look alike to you
until you put them in your hand.
The surface seems so lifeless
Like a man without a brain,
Until you see a flower,
Waiting patiently for rain.

 

I WANT TO THANK YOU

(With Apologies to Sly and the Family Stone)
There's screaming in the classroom.
Kids throwing things around.
My neighbor's in the doorway.
She's complaining about the sound.
She asks me "what are they doing.
how can any of them learn a thing?"
I tell her then "they are crazy;
That's required for creative writing!""

(Chorus)
I want to thank you for letting teach my class again(repeats)

Half my first period's failing
No interest in this school.
As long as they are vegetating;
They think that all is cool.
My second period's taggetts
They write out in the halls
They can hardly wait to leave my class
So they can go do the walls....
(Chorus)

We've computers in my classroom
We try to use them every day.
But they have no printer chord
So we can't print stories anyway.
We made Young Authors' books in there
The junk was spread out on the floor
Little thieves spilled all my glue
And three staplers went out the door.
(Chorus)

The Tustitala's ready.
Copies have been sent around.
Ms. Salazar shows me one of our books;
pages eight and nine are upside down.
A kid is standing at my door.
He says "I'm going to do my work."
I shake my head at his "add" slip
"This class requires a certain kind of jerk."
(Chorus)

Kids are all working
They sitting at their screens
Each one is working on a poem
And I'm not being mean.
They ask me if I'm leaving.
I say "What does it matter if I'm here?"
They say. "if you're not here September.
How can we can we visit you next year!!"
(Chorus repeat and fade)

 

 

 

WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LEARNING

CAST OF CHARACTERS
MR. FRUIT, head of teacher orientation
MR. WAY, Fruit's assistant, another veteran teacher
MS. FRESH, a bright, young teacher full of ideas, enthusiasm, etc.
MS. BATTLE, a veteran teacher certain of her wisdom, pompous
MS. UNDERSTANDING, a kind-hearted new teacher
MR. KINDERLIEDER, the new assistant principal
MR. SNIVLE, a cowardly veteran
WALKER NUMBER ONE, a biker, leader of the student walk-out
WALKER NUMBER TWO, a skater
OTHER STUDENTS AND WALKERS (minimum of two more)
THE BAND (as many as possible)

 

 

SCENE: There's a set of chairs arranged in a semicircle with a sign overhead that says "New Teachers Meeting." Four teachers sit there, two women and two men. Three of them look fairly normal, but the fourth has his tie disarrayed and his hair pointed up in the air and a wild look on his face. As the curtain rises, Mr. Fruit and Mr. Way walk onto the stage. At the front of the stage is a little microphone.

ANNOUNCER: Mr. Fruit and Mr. Way are about to address a special sixth period assembly of all the brand new teachers who have just enjoyed their first day at Stevenson.

FRUIT (looking at the new teachers): Well, how did you all like your first day at Stevenson?

MS. FRESH (the youngest and cutest): Those kids are so, so-energetic.

MS. BATTLE (somewhat older): You have here some of the worst behaved students in the entire district, Mr. Fruit.

MR. KINDERLIEDER (the crazed-looking one): MY:HN'6*& HM HM.(pointing hands off in all directions.)

MS. UNDERSTANDING (touching his shoulders gently): There there Mr. Kinderlieder.

MR. WAY: Wait a second, that's not one of the new teachers. Who is he?

FRUIT: Oh. That's the new vice-principal. (The teachers all start to talk at once.)

FRUIT: WAIT!! (They all stop talking). Now I understand you might be having just a few discipline problems.

OTHERS: Yeah!

FRUIT: Well, I'll tell you what. Mr. Way here is going to pretend he's the teacher, and I want you to show me what they're doing.

WAY (nodding): Let me give you all a little advice. (as he starts to sing, the others throw papers, act out etc....The song is sung to the tune of "Don't Worry; Be Happy")
Let give you all some good advice
You may have students that aren't so nice.
Don't worry-keep teaching.
You have a kid who falls in love you
She shows it by putting gum on your suit.
I say, Don't worry-keep teaching.
When you worry that your brain's on fire;
It seems a lifetime till you retire.
So don't worry-keep teaching.

FRUIT AND WAY together: Hmmmm (the melody)

WAY:
You want to use your stapler, you find it's gone.
You used to own a punch, now they own one.
Don't worry-keep teaching
Your teaching prepositions to your period one
They say "So what!" when you are done.
Don't worry-keep teaching.
You get your check, the money is already spent
You haven't got enough to pay the rent.
Don't worry-keep teaching.

FRUIT AND WAY together: Hmmm (the melody).

WAY:
So now you see where my advice has run:
Watch out when you see them. having fun
Don't worry-keep teaching.

MS FRESH (putting her hands together): Oh thank you Mr. Way. I will try to follow that every day of my teaching.

MR. KINDERLIEDER (point and gesticulating): Duh, duh, hey, hep.

MS. UNDERSTANDING: (pulling him back into his chair): There there. It'll be okay, Mr. Kinderlieder.

MS. BATTLE: That's all very interesting Mr. Way, but it doesn't help me. I've been teaching for thirty-five years. I have no problem with class control.

THE OTHER THREE TEACHERS AND MR. WAY (turning suddenly): What!

MS. BATTLE: I said I have no problems with class control. In fact, (she starts to lean back) I wouldn't be in these stupid sessions if the principal didn't require it.

FRUIT (sighing): I understand.

MS. BATTLE: Well if I have to be here, I might learn something that you are supposed to know, Mr. Fruit. I find my students here just are not interested in learning anything. They're lazy! How do you get them going in your class, (challengingly), or don't you?

FRUIT: Allow me to show you(smiling and stepping towards the audience. The back curtain now opens to display a fifteen piece band): Hit it!!(the band starts and Fruit grabs the mike and faces the audience as though it's the class, The song is to the tune of "Gimme Some Loving.").
Well I feel so good I'm on education high,
But you gotta moving 'cause the class is going by.
So glad you could make it;
On the test you can't fake it;
You gotta-gimme some learning.

WAY (answering on the other mike): Gimme some learnin'.

FRUIT: Gimme some learnin''.

WAY: Gimme. gimme some learnin'.

FRUIT (after organ solo, dancing now):
Well we're writing compositions so you're gonna need your pen.
I hope you're take notes cause I'm not saying this again.
So glad your in this class.
You gotta work just to pass!
You better-give me some learning.

WAY: Gimme some learnin.'

FRUIT: Gimme some learnin.'

THE BAND: Gimme some learnin!

FRUIT (down on his knees): Gimme, gimme some learnin.'

THE BAND AND WAY: Gimme gimme some learnin.'

FRUIT AND OTHERS: aaaaaaaa----men.

MS. FRESH (sighing): Oh that was inspirational. I'll remember that for all my teaching career.

MR. KINDERLIEDER (standing up and pointing): HMMY nHY NHG HIN!

MS. UNDERSTANDING (pulling him down violently): There there!

FRUIT: Well, if we've answered all of your questions, maybe we can all just sign out and go home and beat the traffic.

MS. FRESH: I have just one, tiny little question.

MS. BATTLE (shaking her head): Ohhhh!

MS. FRESH: I have all gifted classes, and my students are wonderful.

MS. BATTLE (looking upward towards Heavens): Give me break.

MR. FRESH: They are all very smart. It's just they can't seem to work together or even with me. It's like they have their own little agenda that they're following.

MS. BATTLE: In other words, they're going crazy in her class.

MS. FRESH: What do I tell them, Mr. Way?

WAY (considering and then taking the mike): Tell them this (to the tune of "Somebody to Love.")
Everybody, needs somebody to learn.
Everybody, needs somebody to learn.
When I get lonely, I don't know what to do.
I get my books together, I go right to my school.

OFFSTAGE VOICES (interrupting the song): Walk! Walk! Walk!

MR. SNIVLE (running on stage): Everybody run for your lives; the students are staging a walk-out! (He runs off the other side).

MR. KINDERLIEDER: DXYRA CYDSISN CHDINS S I

MS. UNDERSTANDING (gritting her teeth and punching him): THERE THERE
Mr. Kinderlieder!

STUDENTS (walking on stage in worst school clothes, t-shirts and jeans. halters, shorts, many chewing big wads of gum, a couple dressed as "cholos," a couple with orange hair and carrying signs): WALK! WALK! WALK!

MS. FRESH (grabbing Ms. Battle): What do we do?

MS. BATTLE (starting to stand up, cynically): Ask Mr. Way.

WAY (starting to sneak away): Mr. Fruit is the most experienced teacher here. He will certainly know what to do.

FRUIT (straightening his tie vainly) Thank-you, Mr. Way.(He turns to face the leader of the walk-out, bigger than he. The other teachers form a cowering line behind him.)

HEAD WALKER (dressed like a biker): Get out of my way, teacher.

SECOND WALKER (a skater): Yeah dude, we've had enough, dude.

FRUIT (facing the leaders. Song is to the tune of "Sweet Home Chicago."):
Baby, Baby why you want to run?
I said Baby, Baby why you want to run?
You've got a second home, and they call it-Stevenson.
Baby,

WAY (answering): Baby.

FRUIT: Baby why you want to run,

WAY (answering): You know we need you, you know we need you.

FRUIT:
I said Baby, Baby why you want to run?
You've got a second home, and they call it-Stevenson.

HEAD WALKER (pushing Fruit aside): Get out of my way nerd!

STUDENTS: Walk! Walk! Walk!

KINDERLIEDER (standing suddenly. When the other teachers lined up they apparently forgot him. He points his arms and points his finger) DXAAAAA!

SECOND WALKER: It's the new assistant principal.

THIRD WALKER (considering): I think, he wants to say something.

KINDERLIEDER (moving to face the walkers): Ev-(pauses)ry body(pauses) needs some body to learn! (He smiles and takes the mike gathering>

strength. This reprise of "Someone to Love")

Everybody needs somebody to learn.
Everybody needs somebody to learn.
When I get baffled, I don't know what do,
I get myself together and I go right to my school.

MS. BATTLE (shaking her head as though giving in):
Everybody needs somebody to grow.
Everybody needs somebody to know.
When I get worried that my life is on the run,
I get my together and remember teaching can be fun.

HEAD WALKER (rubbing his chin and considering, facing students):
Everybody needs somebody to see.
Everybody needs somebody to be.
When I get lonely and caught up in problems of my life
I go right to my school and see everything's all right.

STUDENTS (joining hands with teacher and repeating over and over):
I need you, you, you.
I need school, school, school.

TEACHERS (joining hands and repeating, over and over):
Everyday, every way...

MR. KINDERLIEDER (through the microphone on his hands and kneeling, speaking over the singing): Get those books out! We're going back to class! Hold the bells were on overtime. Let's see those pencils! (etc.....)

 

THE BLACK CALIPH

The party selected me to kill him,
A great honor to kill a president.
Now I am the Iraqi president,
And now there are traitors who would kill me.
Today I wear my soldiers uniform.
Tomorrow I put on my Arab robes,
And Tuesday I'll display my business suit.
For Friday, well, I will have to ponder.

The greatest enemy is Israel.
They pollute Arab land with guns and lies.
I will destroy them and denounce their deeds
And scour our holy places with their bones.

I dream of all Arabs as one nation.
That is why I sent guns to Lebanon.
That is why I sent tanks into Kuwait.
That is why my armies rove the deserts.

The Westerners can never understand
The things that I have done to help my land.
They want to hear of gassing rebel Kurds
And ministers I've killed for their treason.

It's true death has traveled with me always.
And helped me cleanse like sand scours grime.
"Unity, freedom, and socialism,"
I'll shout, and I am not afraid to die.

I have made a middle class from peasants,
I have helped a nation to learn to read,
I've built an army to protect my dream,
And I have restored ancient Babylon.

 

A SHIPMASTER'S FAREWELL
(An introduction to the 1990 Tusitala)

Oh little books with sails of white,
Bright words, not crosses. grasp the breeze.
No guns, but stories on your decks
And rhymes do fill your cargo hold,
Sail into tomorrow!

Oh little ship with printed flag,
Your decks are manned by youthful crew,
That give off life, like poetry.
And call out proudly to the world:
"Sail into tomorrow!"

Oh ship called Tusitala book,
You carried me to golden lands,
And showed the beauty of our school.
I watch you sail into the sky;
Sail into tomorrow!

 
STRANGERS IN THE CLASS
(to the tune of "Strangers in the Night")

Strangers in the class, exchanging glances,
Somewhere down the line, they blew their chances.
Why were they so wrong, as to do no work.
Something in their eyes, shows their ambition
Just to leave the class, and get nutrition,
But now they'll never see, their morning's chance to eat.

Strangers in the classes, not paper users,
Strangers in the class, I'll call them losers,
Food was just a walk away, a homework done before today

Strangers in the class, remain together,
Sitting there like glass, waiting forever,
Some of them won't pass those strangers in the class.

 
NEW VISION

Can you see me?
Can you hear me?
I am not the one you knew before.

Can you feel me?
Please be near me.
I don't want you walking out that door.

Can you touch me?
Can you need me?
What are you saying here to me?

Don't tell me 'bout tomorrow.
I've got yesterday.
Don't tell me 'bout the sorrow.
Does it matter anyway?
Don't me 'bout your future
I swallowed up the past
Don't tell my reality
I say that it won't last.

Can you see me?
Can you hear me?
What was that song I sung to you?