last two years in school & how we carry death around us

crushed and bruised,
i change schools
try to re-spell eduCation,
one last chance
@ a new start

“doN’t get in my way”, i say

skydive physics on the lakeside,
scraTch equations in the dirt
& lung-test history,
along the way–

having lost life’s instructions
afternoons & weekends,
i work in a clothes shop,
& on breaks blow my boss
(for the extra money
cause i doN’T want
to fit in),

my best friend’s old car,
on the school way,
we throw songs against panes,
careLess, fulSpeed, he’s
the only guy, i talk to, & we
have our own rules,
unjudged, mostly

“you look like crap–“
my teacher says
(seventeen, last few days in school),
“what did you do?”
“My dad died yesterday”

a pin falls,
thousand meters deep,
breaks its head in dustflakes
craShes– unbraked
on the floor
in complete silenCe–
“i am sorry” and
without a shift of breath,
he says,
“you wrote the best test”

i get up,
turn my cotton-packed head,
limp sword loose on my hip,
(in a battle, who, i wonder,
would defend me?)

stuff exam papers in my bag,
latch sNaps,
(thunder-like) no flash–
& i don’t count
seconds
turn into hours

& it all
feels less than nothing

.

over at dVerse, we’re celebrating OpenLinkNight 100..wow…leaves me a bit breathless…so let’s rock the place with poetry and dance the night away..smiles… it makes me happy.. see you at 3pm EST..

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77 responses to “last two years in school & how we carry death around us

  1. Sad … how little help our teachers were … when I was young, my papers were down graded just because I was a gypsy bastard … but fondly remember Mrs Harms, because she loved and understood me … 🙂

  2. Both my parents were dead by the end of my first year of high school – the teachers were great, and I knew how to exploit the orphan image : ) Great writing!

  3. It seems to me, Claudia, that there’s a certain numbness that protects us during those first few days after a death, and it makes us quite impervious to the annoyances of every day life. That’s been my experience, at least, and your poem certainly confirmed that to me. A wonderfully sensitive write.

  4. Powerful, any comment of mine would be superfluous, these words of yours speak for themselves, who knew the pin dropping could be so powerful! Thanks again, Kevin

  5. your story makes me tear up a bit claudia…the trials and challenges we all go through int he making of us…the loss of your dad, the things with your boss…ugh…overcoming it to finish first in your class…less than nothing is a hard echo at the end…i am only glad for it as you lived through it to become the you that you are…smiles…

  6. What we don’t know about our students could fill volumes, and they rarely tell us directly–it’s all clues and expecting teacher’s to fail. The Pin drop moment in this poem was a punch in my belly with a thrill along the spine. If there had been no job, no sexual abuse (adult to child), no death,imagine how much further this “best of class” student could be! Your poem stitches the tale together with short threads, and then closes with the snap of the briefcase on the protagonist’s numbness. Breathless, Beautiful.

  7. Resilience. I think you know this word well! My heart wanted to reach out and protect this child… Thank God you were one tough kid. A very raw poem, and the ending seals it nicely.

  8. “It all feels like nothing.” That is the way it is sometimes when a close person has first died, I think. I can empathize with this, feel it in my gut. How tragic to lose your dad when you were 17….and have to go to school the next day. Life is hard, Claudia. But thankfully it is also good.

  9. Sadly been there as well at my feed, not in a fun way what so ever either. But digging in the dirt again? Geez hope you wash your hands lol

  10. Wow, Claudia: “having lost life’s instructions” and “throwing songs against panes,” I feel I was there with you…like I was there with my John in my youth. Pain and courage. I must say you’re among my top favorite writers of poetry.

  11. Those last lines grabbed at my heart. So sad that some teachers are so detached and uncaring they miss opportunities to teach about life and compassion. Still, we survive. You’ve done so, beautifully.
    Congrats on the 100 Dverse. Thank you for co-creating it.

  12. How sad but you described this incredible sadness & event of your life very well:

    a pin falls,
    thousand meters deep,
    breaks its head in dustflakes
    craShes– unbraked
    on the floor
    in complete silenCe–

    Happy OLN ~

  13. I don’t know if death ever felt like nothing. It felt like something I couldn’t define. But I’d reach for something or simply felt without naming. The crashing was the confusion, anger, loss, mourning, numbness and somewhere in there- sex. Death followed by sex. There is a deep need to feel and to escape. Ummm. Might write on this.

    Claudia, our loss is not all we are as evident in what little I’ve come to know about you through your work. Death affected you, but it doesn’t define you.

  14. Such finality and such a sense of change and endings, which also suggest of course, the beginnings to which we carry the past in our old bags–the tension here is tight as a spring, with the sense of the stress of youth–pressure like we never know it again, no matter how trying our adult lives become. Great work, Claudia, and congratulations on the first hundred Open Link Nights.

  15. Sometimes such events just hold us still, for none to judge or even guess our state of mind. Must have been a trying time ; you have evolved nevertheless

  16. “a pin falls,
    thousand meters deep,
    breaks its head in dustflakes
    craShes– unbraked
    on the floor
    in complete silenCe–”

    -this is how your poem fell on me, reading

  17. Claudia, you know how to celebrate 100 weeks! Incredible poem, knocked me out. I’m in the pin drop chorus–beautiful. School can feel like death especially around exam time–and you came through

  18. After Viet Nam, many of us got used to saying “It don’t mean nothin'” when confronted with more death, or other negative situations–but of course, it meant “everything”. This piece is truly emotionally powerful, and it underlines the fact that each of us, somehow has to find our own way; great that you had the advantage of intellect. I was in boot camp, 22 when my mother died; never a good time for death as train wreck.

  19. Your intensely emotional write left me shaken and stirred, death don’t have no mercy in this land ! Congrats on 100 OpenLinkNight’s and for making dVerse Poet’s Pub such a cool place to hang out !!!

  20. It is when you come totally out of the blue and knock me over with lines like:

    i work in a clothes shop,
    & on breaks blow my boss
    for the extra money

    And do it so matter-of-factly, that I am reminded I am in the presence of greatness when I am reading Claudia.

  21. We float out there somewhere by ourselves in our grief–at least I did when my dad died–this just brought me right back to it—I want to hug you across the water

  22. Think you and Brian must have had a secret pact to each save virtuoso pieces for this special evening!

    This is stunning, Claudia… The howl of adolescence – it rings so true…

  23. A lot of raw feeling in this, pain and how we deal with it–lost my dad at 16 (mom at 7) Lucky to have the people I did in my life. Some things still walk the peripherals of vision, transcend the time passed. And then I write.

  24. “it all
    feels less than nothing”, – nothing matter after loss, nothing to compare with…
    we get this “thick” skin, but feeling’re alive..forever…very powerful poem

    .

  25. Damn…….. all of that incredible, incredible creativity – a pin dropping after you declare your father’s death!

    “breaks its head in dustflakes
    craShes………..”

    So awesome Claudia, yet the only thing I am left with, the only shred of personal knowledge I can cling to while ending this poem is this: your boss is a lucky assed bastard………! 🙂

  26. I love this! So powerful it grabs the heart and gives it a shake. There were many favorite lines but “we throw songs against panes,” resonated with me it was the perfect image for the action without telling. Bravo!

  27. I am thinking now – yes, your words remind me of E E Cummings. It is hard to comment sensibly on this poem. It floats, I want to grab pieces of it as the words float by on clouds. Spectacular, yes, that is the right word.

  28. Death certainly takes it’s toll on us… and others can’t seem to understand that when you are mourning. Beautiful poem!

  29. A defiant pulse.. you capture that so well.. can see what your narrator sees and snatch her flaming emotions. Wonderful shifts and gaps too… a great piece to celebrate the 100!

  30. Those times..
    I remember the teachers, classmates, those corridors
    ahhh everything just flashes right in front of me.

    we can never forget those days..
    some bad, some good
    bittersweet 🙂

    As always your post was superb Claudia !!

  31. Wow Claudia, this sucked the breath right from my lungs. The ‘pin falls’ stanza and the one following are especially brilliantly done to me. Such an unflinching look at a time of life that was so crushing. Excellent writing!

  32. …when misery laughs the best defend we can do is to laugh back at it… coz if you don’t it will kill you again & again until the only option you have is to forget the morning & be like the night forever… you are strong Claudia & i admire you beyond your poetry… smiles…

    ..can i just thank you for all you do for the sake of poetry love all over the world… & thank you for hiring me on the pub boss… smiles…

    #fireworks #smiles..

  33. You’ve left me breathless, Claudia. Love the unapologetic rawness. A lot of this hit close to home. That feeling of nothing is without a doubt the worst feeling, or lack thereof. Thanks for the read! Suits my rainy day perfectly (with strong green tea of course).

  34. “& it all
    feels less than nothing…”

    You have captured “loss, death, sadness, emptiness and pain” through your poetic… word.
    Thank-you,
    deedee 😦

  35. A lot of beautiful lines here, Claudia, in the midst of a breakneck story–the throwing songs against the panes, the scratching of lessons on wayside sand. Wonderful. And many congrats re OLNs. Woo-hoo. I am without my own computer and working very hard at my job so don’t know if I can get something up, but

  36. Claudia, this is a poignant poem with a punch to the gut. You define adolescence well here. Happy 100th to you and the crew.

    Pamela

  37. Well, I was trying to limit myself in highlighting my favorite parts. But it turned out to be almost the whole (fantastic) poem. So I’m just going to paste it all!

    “i work in a clothes shop,
    & on breaks blow my boss
    (for the extra money
    cause i doN’T want
    to fit in),

    my best friend’s old car,
    on the school way,
    we throw songs against panes,
    careLess, fulSpeed, he’s
    the only guy, i talk to, & we
    have our own rules,
    unjudged, mostly

    ‘you look like crap–’
    my teacher says
    (seventeen, last few days in school),
    ‘what did you do?’
    ‘My dad died yesterday’

    a pin falls,
    thousand meters deep,
    breaks its head in dustflakes
    craShes– unbraked
    on the floor
    in complete silenCe–
    ‘i am sorry’ and
    without a shift of breath,
    he says,
    ‘you wrote the best test’

    i get up,
    turn my cotton-packed head,
    limp sword loose on my hip,
    (in a battle, who, i wonder,
    would defend me?)

    stuff exam papers in my bag,
    latch sNaps,
    (thunder-like) no flash–
    & i don’t count
    seconds
    turn into hours

    & it all
    feels less than nothing”

  38. I like your stanza about the pindrop – what a beautiful image and description for the silence that resulted from the revelation. This is a beautifully written poem – it captured sadness and a youth’s awakening to life.

  39. This is a great piece. It twisted my emotions with perfect rhythm and words, perfect pacing…sadness is pervasive at the end.

  40. wow, what a read. a pin falls is a stand still moment. so is i get up. it takes enormous strength to show such vulnerability. this is art.

  41. Excellent poem on many levels. This stanza could stand on its own:

    a pin falls,
    thousand meters deep,
    breaks its head in dustflakes
    craShes– unbraked
    on the floor
    in complete silenCe–
    “i am sorry” and
    without a shift of breath,
    he says,
    “you wrote the best test”

  42. This is quite beautiful, Claudia, stunning because it has a turn, just when I thought it was just another Schoenfeld special, it turned on … well yes … a pin. A fantastic poetic moment. Oh how much I have been missing your special touch with words!