Compulsory Identity

January 12, 2008
By Lindsey Durham, Overland Park, KS

We are followers.
Fixed in a classroom
Controlled by bells and required to ask permission to use the lavatory
We do not learn: we produce.
Frost and Whitman are lost to binary thinking
Creativity is mass-produced and imported by the metric ton

We are farm stock
Naturally selected, underage and drunk with our successes in mediocre academia
Where Kleenex is in short supply
And hall passes are the golden ticket to get out of the sterile linoleum cellblock
And into the hallowed paradise of the orthodontist
Where teachers’ minds rest at the end of a lanyard, below the heart
But above the bar code that grants them entrance into the building and our minds.

We are students.
We value only points and beg for extra credit to tip us to the next level;
Our calculators hold more Tetris than equations
Notebooks fill with gossip rather than history.
We refuse to read the suggested works
But claim the right to make up lost scores for work we never did.

I am revolution.
My teacher says the world rests in my palm,
Waiting to be taken shaken formed into my own
But if I have it in my hands, what is it that you shape with your ambition?
And I know you agree with me because we
Talk about it endlessly, how much we hate school
Hate the limitations,


We are unwilling.
We hold the future in our cupped hands, singing to it soft lullabies of possessive nouns, of exponents and pyroclastics, while we ourselves sleep, face pressed sticky against the desk, mouth agape, draining interest and spittle on copious and (empty) loose leaf filler

We are ephemeral.
Prepared to dash out of the front door,
Put the symbolic key in the metaphoric ignition of our lives
Back out of the driveway
Wave goodbye to Momma and Daddy and Mrs. Next-Door
And face eternity, head-on.

We need a catalyst.
We are.

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