The Drop-Out’s Lament
Some days he likes to think.
he enjoys it the way other folks
like looking at the sunlight that comes through the leaves.
Trouble is it gets in the way,
of timelines, y’know?,
and of syllabi, too,
not to mention his grade-point,
until the list of F’s and Incompletes is,
or at least it seems that way to the shame inducing critic,
the one who lives inside his heart
he just drops out
and only feels the tiniest twinge of pride when they call him
Last time it happened they were talking “Thou Shouldst”.
“What ‘Thou Shouldsts’ were you born to?
And what ‘Thou Shouldsts’ have you fled?
And what “Thou Shouldsts” are birthing themselves
through what you think is you now?”
That’s what the person in power,
the one at the front of the room,
and that’s when our hero went home
or at least he went away.
after the timeline expired and the syllabus had died,
he woke up in the hour before dawn
and wrote this:
“It’s odd how I’ve resisted doing this assignment.
always lie to your enemy—
If you don’t, how the hell can you win?
always vote for yourself, even if the other peep is better suited
and also much more deserving—
I mean if you don’t vote for yourself, who the hell do you think will?
have ambitions beyond the pail and do what you can to fulfill them—Otherwise what are you worth?
do what you’re told, as in ‘love your country or leave it’—
If you don’t, you’re just another traitor who ought to be shot on sight.
“And those,” he wrote,
“are just some of the ones I’ve rejected
during Time’s too twisted passage.
“Ones I live by? Try these:
“Thou shouldst give credit where credit is due—
I mean there’s always something the other peeps do
as well as or better than you.
“Thou shouldst work your ass off to understand
even if sometimes it hurts like hell
that honesty is not only the best,
but the most healing policy, too.
“Thou shouldst learn to fight like Gandhi—
See the book of a similar name.
“Thou shouldst be kind,
when your trauma kicks in and even then
thou shouldst go back later
to kindly explain what happened.
“Born anew each day
like a baby
that may or may not
live all the way through the night?
“Well, those’d be Values, I guess.
And Intersectionality (That’d be connecting the dots).
Honesty (even in the face of danger or, you know, whatever).
Community (with loved ones and other ones, too).
Maybe honest and open Vulnerability
and that certain kindly kind of Kindness
that reaches both in and out
in search of some kind of
that can birth both reconciliation
and what Grandpa Ferlinghetti called
‘a new rebirth of wonder’.
Dancing the Dance is a value,
as is The Kind of Laughter that Heals.”
And that’s when he curled up there in his bed
like an overgrown fetal ball.
He most certainly did.
that’s when he started crying.
Your poem flows so well! I admire how you use both casual and scholarly diction to tell of a dropout’s struggles and regrets.
Thou shouldst go back later to kindly explain what happened…
So much humor that I’m appreciating, as well as the independent spirit, the caring and creating a code to live by. Most important endeavors.
I love that the thinking got in the way of academia, you’re absolutely right. So many intelligent, independent people dropped out for that reason… being too thoughtful isn’t exactly what they’re asking for, nor is too much independence.
Don’t despair, you may be exactly what the world (…and your self!) needs.
“that certain kindly kind of kindness that reaches both in and out in a search of some kind of open hearted ambiguous truth”…Words to live by! I admire the way you’re poetizing some of your prose pieces…they’re gripping (& some of the smartest people I know can barely read)