Evil Eyes

With coal dust in your myopic eyes
You see warped, distorted images

Like reflections in carnival mirrors,

The surface of disturbed water,

Or the cave of a polished spoon.
Seeing with a visual apparatus 

Slick with a film of judgment 

Perhaps renders your discolored, 

Tinged view of my world and me

To yourself most sightly.  
But, how long will you bear to see nightshade where there actually bloom roses?

Serpents where there actually stand people?

Relieve yourself of that judgmental culture, your cataract, your coal dust.
Do yourself a favor: wash your eyes and see,

Behold the beauty that is,

Rather than contriving an ugliness that never was. 

Advertisements

An Open Letter to the Two Kinds of Teachers

Ask anybody who a teacher is. Either, you will end up hearing the stock definition of the word, or the character profile of a person. 
From the compendium of traits used to describe teachers, I choose two for the purpose of a little taxonomy. 
Subject-oriented and student-oriented.
These traits, while not mutually exclusive, carry their own individual import. 

To the subject-oriented teacher,
You know that your job demands dignity, prestige, respect. You want silence to enter the classroom with you and stay there until you’re gone. You have expectations. You want to prove to your peers that you’re primo. 
Those people who listen to you, you appreciate their respect because you know you need it. Your foursquare refusal for your class to be second to any other is evident in your methodologies. 
You’re particular about not letting a minute unpunctuated by all things academic slip by. Those people you teach need to get it right down to the last comma and period. 
Your knowledge is awed, your instruction is flawless, your evaluations just, your admonishments firm. 
Small talk narks you, tangential discussions nettle you. 
For you, teaching is a revered profession that should not be subverted by feelings of affection and attachment. 
You’re concern for your subordinates is limited to their ability to fill those blanks right, conjugate every last verb flawlessly, and to show them the way to go on the scholarly ladder – up, up and only up. 
You know where to draw the line, you know what is expected of you, you know what can varnish and what can vitiate your repute. 
You are plumed when you are complimented for your professional conduct, your top-drawer classes.
You give your job your all. You’re satisfied with how you do it. You pride yourself in being a good educator. 

To the student-oriented teacher,
You know that teaching has an ambiguous meaning. You have your string of degrees, you have a comprehensive knowledge of your subject, but for you, the former isn’t what you use to get respect and the latter isn’t the only thing you are meant to impart. 
You want your “kids” to listen to you, and so you bring yourself down to their level. You listen to them. You tell them about yourself. You let them know that you’re as human as they are. Mature, astute and seasoned as you are today, it has not slipped your memory that you were once like them.
Your knowledge commensurates with your humility; the former blows your kids’ minds, the latter touches their hearts. You’re someone who dispenses advice like a therapist, who understands the soup of teenage feelings like a mother, who unabashedly high-fives your kids in the corridors like a friend. 
You want to make sure that they know their spellings, articles and prepositions, but what’s more important to you is to you is for them to know they are valued not by the number or the letter on their answer scripts that attests to their performance, but for who they are as people. 
You don’t see your kids as workers in a mark-generating factory. They’re not just names on a roll, faces you see thrice a week.
You know that that being a friend isn’t a requirement for the job and the monthly paycheck, but that’s who you want to be to those children because when they lay themselves down to sleep at night, you know they’re not going to think about the right usage of l’imparfait and le passé composé, but about what made them smile, what disappointed them. 

You’re concerned about the child whose life isn’t rosy, you talk to the one who seems aloof, you boost the one who doesn’t know what she’s worth, you make them all feel special in their own way. 
It means something to you to mean something to someone. You cherish your kids’ love for you and you’re not loth to reciprocate it, well aware that life is shaped by all the love a person received or didn’t. 
You know the unspoken principle of being a teacher which is not to prepare kids for examinations of some import, but to prepare them for the long road of life that lies ahead of them. 
You know that you’ve done your job right not when you see that perfect score, but when your kids let you know they’ve learned something from you to last a lifetime. 
In all the ways you’ve taught by example, in all the times you cared to look beyond the textbook and the answer leaves, in all the memories you made with the kids who weren’t yours but whom you treated like your own, there lies the nobility, the true passion, the real essence of your profession. 
(Dédicace: Prof, c’est pour vous, ma source d’inspiration, mon enseignante préférée. Je t’aime tellement.)

Flame 

Sulfur mates sulfur.I transfer its child –

A blue-hearted golden leaf

Onto a black spine infixed

In a sacrificial white cylinder.
This blue-gold pendant 

Is the nocturnal man’s 

Misshapen anachronic sun –

The nighttime writer’s allegory –

His passion typified – 

Intense, burning, resistant 

To opposing suffusing winds. 

This is What it Feels Like to be Human

With hearts like diaphanous, broken wings,Pervious bodies on beds of rusted nails,

Minds like speared chrysalises, contents spilling,

We let go of, we lose our quintessence.
We are rocks that fragment under pressure,

Sere twigs that snap, void carapaces that

Crack under the clubfoot of distress. 
Creatures we are whose endurance has

The lifespan of a squirming fish out of water,

Whose vigor wears like watercolor on 

Parchment in the rain. 

Whose patience is as evaporable as dry ice

In a funeral house. 

Whose strength is an armor forged out of a base alloy,

Denting at the slightest touch, 

Puncturing at the hits of dull toy arrows.
Our walls of defense are built on sand,

Our wills are as precarious as a house of cards 

In a room with open windows,

Our unattainable wants, unfulfilled, are balls and chains 

We drag along with us. 
This is what we are:

Creation recreating, 

Uncreating ourselves. 

This is what it is,

This is what it feels like

To be human. 

Bone, Flesh and Soul

Let the wind play upon those bones Like flutes, a dirge to that futile flesh

Which was but a poor keeper of

The soul it was entrusted with –

The soul that was a familiar of

The cradle of dirt wherein that 

Defunct chassis restlessly rots. 
Is the partnership of mind and flesh

As chargeable as corrupt Cain

Who sacrificed an innocent? 
Does the soul seek amends 

For its sacrilege – or does it

Content itself to suffer its keeper? –

That deflowered reliquary 

With its defiled relic.
So like flutes, let the wind 

Play upon those bones a dirge.

Else like faggots, let hellfire, 

Evermore feast upon them. 

Room

The room is dark.A staccato click,
A momentary spark.

Not Hope.

Death’s deceitful warmth is inhaled.

Ghosts, like mist, only hot,

Egress living orifices like they were 

Slinking out of sepulchers. 
The room is depressing.

A glimmer in the dark,

The reflection of a pulsing bright spark.

Not Relief. 

Death is corked in green glass.

There is a transfer from

One container to another –

A container susceptible to breakage.
The room is dreary.

A pop, the ground seems to evanesce 

The air feels lighter.

Not Ecstasy. 

Swirls of exhilarating air enter from cracked crooks and crevices.

Contaminated pipelines are further fouled,

Clogged with venom like nightshade berries –

Heretical prayer beads Death invoking. 
 The room, one day, fell still and went cold. 

Victim of Neglect

Braided creepers festoon its ghosted walls
Whilst translucent panes reveal rusted lattice,

Termite-riddled framework and moth-eaten drapes.
Its once ivory composition is spider-cracked hither and thither,

Its cracks, though finger-deep, are just not deep enough 

To admit a shaft from the sky’s luminaire.
Though with the capacity to contain, it contains 

Naught, save for brass and bronze bric-a-brac with a diluted shine 

Sitting in shambles on stale blue shelves.
This house in form has a formless twin –

A soul shaded from Virtue’s light,

Victim of neglect, empty and inoculated from brightness,

It denies itself dawn to remain in eternal night.