Be careful of all the feelings

I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya, but all high school teachers have hit a point in the academic year characterized by an unholy marriage of slack and panic, for which the Germans probably have a word. The seniors are tired, antsy and have no more fucks to give. As one of them said yesterday, “I have allowed the field in which I grow my fucks to lie fallow and become choked with dessicated weeds.” (Honors kid).

They’re doing a lot of staring out of windows these days; a lot of frantic texting and crying in front of their lockers; a lot of skating by on purpose with a 59.5%. (Maddening). They want to grow up but they also don’t want to, and why, WHY are those their only two choices? They are testing and trying and fighting themselves and other people, on the regular.

The good moments are sweeter, this time of year. Last week, a kid I love for his sensitive poetry writing and guitar-playing asked me if he could leave class early, and when I asked him why, he told me that he’d broken up with his girlfriend last week so he could date someone else, but then during 5th period today he panicked because Girl #2 was SO NOT THE RIGHT PERSON, and he NEEDED TO WIN BACK THE LOVE OF GIRL #1, so he went out to the parking lot to put a note on Girl #1’s car but then! He panicked AGAIN because WHAT IF HE WAS ACTUALY WRONG ABOUT GIRL #2? What if he was OVER-THINKING IT? HE HAD TO TAKE THE NOTE OFF THE CAR!

Here was a problem I understood. I sent him out to the parking lot. He came back, panting. “Son?” I asked. “What did we learn from this?”

“Be careful of all the feelings,” he answered.

Today he stopped by to show me a poem by Amy Gerstler. It goes like this:


Fuck You Poem #45

Fuck you in slang and conventional English.

Fuck you in lost and neglected lingoes.

Fuck you hungry and sated; faded, pock marked and defaced.

Fuck you with orange rind, fennel and anchovy paste.

Fuck you with rosemary and thyme, and fried green olives on the side.

Fuck you humidly and icily.

Fuck you farsightedly and blindly.

Fuck you nude and draped in stolen finery.


Fuck you while cells divide wildly and birds trill.

Thank you for barring me from his bedside while he was ill.

Fuck you puce and chartreuse.

Fuck you postmodern and prehistoric.

Fuck you under the influence of opium, codeine, laudanum and paregoric.

Fuck every real and imagined country you fancied yourself princess of.

Fuck you on feast days and fast days, below and above.

Fuck you sleepless and shaking for nineteen nights running.


Fuck you ugly and fuck you stunning.

Fuck you shipwrecked on the barren island of your bed.  

Fuck you marching in lockstep in the ranks of the dead.

Fuck you at low and high tide.

And fuck you astride

                                anyone who has the bad luck to fuck you, in dank hallways,    

         bathrooms, or kitchens.

Fuck you in gasps and whispered benedictions.

And fuck these curses, however heartfelt and true,

that bind me, till I forgive you, to you.