Weekly poem on Trump Presidency
On Tambourines and AR-15s
Remember that black teenager
that said that snarky thing
in that show with the white teacher
who got through to his classmates
by teaching them to calculate the odds
when throwing dice?
who did Dukie’s laundry so
Dukie bought him a fancy pen?
(But then Michael shot Snoop
and became the next Avon)
Or that movie where the white
teacher said I won’t let you fail
to her inner city (read: black and brown) students
and then like sold their journal entries
in real life, got rich
and then quit?
You know the one.
Remember that other one
when the white teacher used Bob Dylan
and karate moves to teach poetry
but then Emilio got shot anyway
so then she wanted to quit
but didn’t because candy bars?
Or that other other one
with Adrian Brody as a troubled substitute
with Ryan Gosling as a crackhead
and he bonds with
the black kid
that throws a book deals drugs flips a desk rolls his eyes sucks her teeth?
I must have been doing it wrong.
Because I told my students
I refuse to give a shit if you don’t.
And I barely remembered Taquan
who died slumped over a railing
trying to get inside Marcy or Farragut or one of those
with a bullet in his back.
The kids said he kept running, even after.
I remember Philip.
My co-teacher said
he said he loved my class
I remember praising him
I remember his shy smile
His towering height and soft voice
Us chatting in the doorway sometimes.
But I walked off that job
a month before he was shot and I knew
He lived with his grandma and I knew
she was too old to care for him and I knew
he was an easy target
for the Williamsbridge gangs.
What if I had stayed?
Could I have praised him read his journal showed him karate taken him home?
Could I have taught him odds the right book the perfect
poem that saved him?
What if I were the one with a gun?
Would Philip not have staggered into that Chinese restaurant
and bled out on the dirty floor?
Would it keep kids from dying?
Remember that movie where the black teacher
has a gun
and he saves his white students
and dies from a gunshot
fired by a cop?
Leigh Thatcher is a former New York City teacher living in Edison, NJ.