Killer lines – poetry in the classroom

My most recent blog made mention of the Said Poets Society and their visit to my school. I can’t thank them enough for their efforts in engaging with the students and providing them with a voice. I’ve been teaching for over 11 years now and I am still surprised by what students can produce; I think if that surprise ever dissipates then I will leave the profession.

Anyway, one of the slides the Said Poets showed my students suggested that they should try to identify 2 fast parts and 2 slow parts, 2 soft points and 2 loud points, as well as 2 ‘killer lines’ as part of their editing process.

Below are some of the killer lines from my students and, without a doubt, one of the strongest pieces of poetry I have ever had the pleasure of seeing performed.

DH –
“Was I just a puppet to be exploited? A puppy just for your enjoyment?”

“Played a man’s heart like a baby with a rattle;
Shaking it, loving it, breaking it.”

ED –
“The claws of death came and pulled them under.”

“These kids are like lambs ready for the slaughter…”

EB –
“Stole her mother from her
And never gave her back.”

“The joy recently brought by the faded ‘positive’ double line
Was washed away with crimson blood, staining her sheets.”

JD –
“You wait, you board, you wait, you exit, you wait, rinse, repeat, start over, keep waiting for the next destination.”

MD –
Wrote of trees and their “emerald umbrellas”.

RM –
“The ominous, dark sky is black ink spilt
on the parchment of the heavens,
a purpling bruise on the skin of the universe.”

“The earth bares scars, pits and puddles,
healed by the sun, a shy child peeking out
from its mother’s skirt.”

RW –
“… I smiled
until we got Home and I dropped the facade as soon as you were asleep”

And finally, the entire poem by Bec Weldon (whose permission I asked before publishing this and who is, justifiably, proud of her work:

5 Ways to Cure the World

It’s become a sentimental cliché of sort,

That’s through wars we’ve fought and thoughts we’ve thought

That when asked how we can change, we resort,

To the same tired answers

World Peace, Equality,

These words, to me, hold little meaning

Through their overuse in every situation

Let me change that, every wrong situation,

A petty drunken fight and the media calls for peace on the streets,

Yet we seldom hear of the thousands slain in cold blood over political unease,

A mother cannot afford to feed her starving child but we hear tales of celebrities running wild,

Men read carefully constructed speeches from carefully decorated podiums,

Calling for society to change,

And it should, though are their intentions so equally directed,

When victims suffer and the guilty are protected

From a woman’s view I see no more than political babble

And bullshit to gain the affections of the gullible.

With this in mind, I disregard the changes that old men sitting at circular tables have decided we need to make,

Through their fondness for the good old days, when their own actions are far too late

Instead turning to my attention to what I believe,

As a young person who will live in this world after such men have passed,

Regardless of whether their worlds brought change,

Or whether peace has been achieved at last,

And so I give you my own list,

Of changes I believe we missed

I must insist, that this pessimistic approach to curing the world,

Should be dismissed.

5 ways to cure the world.

Number 1- Acceptance

I’m not talking about equality, that’s out of the question

When at every mention, the privileged groan in contemption

I’m not just targeting race, gender, sexuality, or financial splendour

I’m talking about loving thy neighbour like a God told us we should

Accepting that your colour, genitals and religion doesn’t determine whether you’re bad or good

Should your kids grow up in a world where we clutch our purse, when a coloured man walks past us, or threaten godly curses onto girls who love girls or men who choose guys

Shall a transgender teen be beaten to death, Muslims despised or refugees oppressed,

When you look into a child’s eyes, would you rather see unconditional love or heartless despise?

Fuck the other 4, this is my solution, acceptance, is not an outdated institution.

Can I ask a question, please, I just want to know,

Does having a cock mean that you can shame? Or grab ass and pass it off as a
compliment?

Does having a vagina mean we just have to put up with it, does it make us weak or
dependent?

Does having a job make you better, than those who don’t?

Does the size of your bank account determine your worth?
Does the colour of your skin determine your criminal record?

No, no, no, no and no

For hours we can listen to scripted phrases,

Read by celebrities,

Written by employees on minimum wages,

About how we can change,

Here buy a t-shirt, a quote about peace,

Thank you for supporting the cause

Acceptance isn’t agreeing to something someone said one time

Or opening a door for a Asian person and thinking ’Wow I’m so ethnically concerned’

Acceptance is recognition of women and theirs rights

Recognising that no one should live in poverty, without a place to stay the night

Understanding that people might be attracted to someone of the same gender

Or want to identify as something other than what they’ve been told they should be

People wanting to believe in their gods

People working the system against all odds

Us accepting that they are different and loving them even so.

Through depression, desperation, revolution, recession

It’s not about putting people onto pedestals

Or making less fortunate workers polish them for minimum wage

It’s about flattening the grounds, removing the signs prohibiting change

Understanding that though there may never be equality between race, rank or gender

We should treat all as family, with respect as a friend

Or at least acknowledge their right to their earth

Because let’s face it, we all were no different at birth

And so I’ve completed my list, that of just one idea

Acceptance, of all, for all, now and here.