You know that it usually comes in tip-toes,
with the dove tails.
The guilt and the shame,
two peace abiding omniverts
before ambiguity presses hard on our teenage fingers.
Before adulthood gets us sleeping beyond 8 A.M. curfews
and bingeing on fast food collectives more than television.

The yin and the yang,
yo-yo mechanics of arguments,
up for debate,
ooze out like sap from the legacied tree
tasted by top of the class.

Book drops
Name drops
Mic drops
The swollen head, limp limbs,
invulnerable credits.

That’s school life,
tawdry and imperfect,
fantastically pro-choice only in word and photo-op deeds.

And I know the fracture comes,
not from the half constructed sixth floor caving in
but by not having a doodle and sign off on the hand cast
or one last entry on the scrap book.

Those Cheshire grins and last minute rote learning
and rebel in the rye fields,
invoking the ballad of Holden Caulfield,
remembered from everybody’s favourite class assignment,
we drink it all in.

Symbolic figureheads of high school,
outcasts by selective counts
and class monitors by one vote down,
all true in the fount, for the next ten years.

That’s life
That’s the charisma of unlikely friendships
between front-runners and backbenchers,
backbenchers and runners,
as they go off like rockets in rage and sensibilities,
off into the grey blaze.


There’s an army of locusts,
descending on the minefield where we stand together,
as we pull out bricks
from this ugly, ruddy concrete bibliotheque
with an expansive name.

And this, here, is the valedictorian,
with the commencement speech in quips and quibbles,
with spirits and bold fonts and digitized detoxification,
from the class of 2020,
all put to paper in messy black ink and rainbow souls,

with fists in hearts and a murmur of changing the next decade,
pudgy and developing like the nations,
against the shrill back-handedness of authority.

For every resolution comes in crests and little accidental assemblages.
And this is the first.
For us.



This poem was something that came to me as a revisionist take from the prism of my inner thoughts while looking back at high school and how the present era grapples with the uncertainty of post Covid negotiation with education, reconciling with the flaky foundations of it all in the first place. One can call it a rant, a rebel cry or just a picture of reality.

3 thoughts on “CLASS OF 2020- A REBEL CRY

  1. Hi PJ:

    “One can call it a rant, a rebel cry or just a picture of reality.” I would call it ALL 3! I’m fond of the “BOTH” but here, I do believe it is ALL 3! And as “4” is my spiritual number, maybe it’s ALL 4, for you are the poet of this masterpiece. To invite the reader to go back to high school is charged with unbelievable emotional pain and a constant and consistent state of fear I was ALWAYS in, The PTSD of the “fight, flight, or freeze,” once again, ALL 3. But maybe not! “Fight” didn’t seem like an option at the time of the bullying, but “flight” and “freeze” sure were, especially “freeze.” After high school and many years thereafter, I had to teach myself how to breathe correctly because of all the “freezing” I was in during high school. Because of the bullying AND the fear of being bullied again (BOTH), I had learned to hold my breath and wait it out (wish I had known I could “pray it out,” but I didn’t at that time know anything about prayer). I was a “chest breather” and a “holding my breath” breather who had to learn how to breathe from the abdomen and breathe deep. I still struggle with being a “chest breather” and a “holding my breath” breather, but I can catch myself quicker when this happens. Your poem is indeed relatable, not only for the outcasts but also for the “in”casts. Even the popular ones, I believe, were battling some serious demons, maybe even more so than the unpopular ones. The popular ones were so concerned with appearances that they probably had little time to look inside. Because I was an unpopular one, I spent many an hour looking inside. I still look inside all the time. It is truly the outcasts, the unpopular ones, who become determined to make something of their lives post-high school. I often think about those bullies and what became of them. A class reunion came around the bend (there’s the MOON RIVER reference again) but it was not something I cared to attend. But I should seriously consider going to one if one shows up, because I would love to have the opportunity to look those bullies in the eyes and say, “Look at me! Look at all the good God has done for me! Look at what I have accomplished and achieved! What about you? What have you accomplished and achieved? And if you have accomplished and achieved much, was it worth all the torture and humiliation you put me through?” I don’t know how they would answer those questions but I know how I would: “Because you bullied me, it just made me more determined to show you that I was ALWAYS worth something, ALWAYS loved, ALWAYS encouraged, ALWAYS destined to be who God made me to be despite your objections.” None of this, of course, said to brag but simply to put into perspective a greater perspective: I AM worth something, loved, encouraged, and destined for greatness because GREAT IS GOD!!!! Thanks for your poem, PJ, that allowed me to remember and release!

    Love and blessings always, PJ,
    Timothy (“Mr. T”)


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