The Public School Whose Number Doesn’t Matter


          Do you see what I see as a thirty three year old

          English teacher, at a public school in the city

          Whose number doesn’t matter: aged enough to see beyond

          Romance, and young enough to believe in life?

          This is the rapture that comes with the certainty

          And finality of death, and the knowledge

          Of defiant play: HA, I AM ALIVE

          In this eternal now, and death itself, shot dead.

          This is what the students say with laughter rather than words.

          This living moment, of children who do

          Not know decay, is taken as ‘given.’

          In my classroom as we pontificate

          On “Hamlet” and the implications

          Of mythic Dionysus, and, yes, Mr. Cruz

          The play resembles “Romeo and Juliet”

          In that they die for what they believe in.


          And in the few idle moments before

          The indifferent bell, the group in back with all new labels

          Laughs about the kid from class/ gunned down/ deserved it

          Know who did/ shut up/ class/ punk ass/ gun you down

          They holler again, not knowing that they can’t, like a god

          Put themselves back together again.


          So, I’ll re-create the story of my student

          Who sat in the fourth row, near the wall

          And had a laugh that shattered all-space

          The ineluctable modality

          Of the audible: pre-figuring profound

          Metamorphoses in the currents of life

          And the facts on the books. I’ll write the

          Story of the kid with the big voice

          Who didn’t know boundaries, and hopefully

          Heard his own expansive voice, or at least felt no pain

          As he departed forever into silence.






                                                                                              Peter Fernbach