Category Archives: teaching

Grieving in Cameo (Can the Living Haunt the Dead?)

for Don Cornelius Belton

I’ve become an extra in the background
of your afterlife. Who thought it possible?
I knew you would choose the city.

Last week I stared at you through the
window as I separated darks from lights
at the laundromat across the street.

You strode forward to meet the wind
grinning with a ghost at each side.
Did you know that I was there?

I hope to land a speaking role next time
but that may be against the rules.
I’m sure it’s not up to you to decide.

Did you mind when I showed up
at your afterlife night spot
and told you to fix your hair?

Your hair was a shoulder-length
curtain of white beads, Rick James style.
You looked dapper, except for the little tuft.

You passed by me at the bar
on your way to the disco
down the dark staircase with a turn.

I grabbed you gently by the arm,
you paused but did not stop
when I pointed to the unruly bit.

I was only trying to earn my keep.
I wanted you to look flawless
underneath the revolving lights.

You were happy to see me, I think.
You looked me in the eye this time
before continuing your descent.

I heard the needle drop
on the record a drum
like my own heart
beat at your arrival.


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Filed under poetry, spirituality, teaching, the dead, Writers & Poets

tina or ms. b?

On Monday i start teaching my first English Composition class. Whoa. I vacillate between excited, scared and overwhelmed. It’s a class almost entirely of white kids from Indiana. I’m going through teacher training this week, learning all the methods to teach analytical writing. We have a textbook that I was happy to see contain essays by Baldwin, Dubois, hooks, Paula Gun Allen and Foucault. There’s also a lot of other essays in there that sound like they’re gonna be really interesting but end up promoting concepts like ‘pull yourself up from your bootstraps’ and ‘suburbs are the closest thing to an American paradise we’ll ever have’ so it’s a little tricky. Of course I have my own agenda of trying to do my best to politicize some of the students, but I have no idea what makes this student population tick. I welcome any advice or insight into the minds of mid-west youth.
I’m getting a little taste of what transplant teachers in the Bay must feel like, I guess.

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Filed under Academia, mid-west, teaching