Monday, April 23, 2018

POEM #23- Betrayal

I have been loosely following Amy Ludwig VanderWater's theme, ONE SUBJECT, 30 DAYS. A couple of days ago, she used a "back and forth" structure. I don't think it worked nearly as well for me as it did for her, but at least I tried.


In sixth grade
we sit, in order
best readers,
front right side of the room
Billy O and I
switch seats 1 and 2
every week.
Readers are leaders.

In seventh grade
Bernice Rosenhoover
wears frosted pink lipsticks,
miniskirts, and
platform heels
at lunch 
she necks with boys
on the railroad tracks
north of the junior high.

I do not even own a lipstick.

In sixth grade
finished assignments
mean time to read
from the messy overstuffed bookshelf
 in the back of the room.
I race through
The Borrowers,
The Yearling,
a hundred others.
The books are my real work.

In seventh grade
there are no real books
only anthologies.
I like the stories in those
but they are not books
and they are not very long
and we get in trouble
if we read ahead. 

In sixth grade
there is status to be found
in being the first person
through an SRA color level.
I enjoy that status.

In seventh grade
no one reads.
Reading is boring
Reading is uncool.
Reading is for nerds. 

I do not want to be a nerd.

And so I become Peter
denying my biggest truths
to please an angry crowd.

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018


Mary Lee said...

Ouch. Too bad the speaker in the poem didn't have YOU in that 7th grade study hall you've taken over by storm with booklove and booktalks and bookculture!!

Jean said...

Let us never deny our biggest truths!

Glenda Funk said...

Junior high/middle school is the purgatory of school. The contrasts you create are so stark and painful. Too often kids deny themselves to fit in. Carol, your poems are so beautiful, often haunting. A poem like this one makes me feel as though you are writing my life in your verses. Thank you.

Cathy said...

Oh, SRA. Yes, I remember that one well. I believe we were all rushing to get to purple, but I don't remember reading a single book that year. Middle school did bring a few "underground" books passed from preteen to preteen because of explicit content.

Carol, I loved your ending stanza. It sounds like you were a reader who didn't want to be discovered and worked to climb over every roadblock thrown your way.