Invisible Mists Holding Children Like Ghosts

empty vessel
ready for words and worlds
to flow into their hands
children of a lesser god
the child inside
finger painting and murals
real syncopation with eagle
king tide

children captured in retail
space yet blocks away
crashing waves, Seal Rock
Devil’s Churn, black eye
of gray whale
eagle couple over football
field, children held in gulag
four walls like moat
tables chairs lined up
DMV driver’s license test

unholy is imprisonment
unworldly is bumbling
teacher as police officer
dead time half the day
bells and announcements
medium security
old men at 39
women heavy with bulging
hips, hunched over at 50

you are what you eat
what you read
what you say
what you do
what you watch
what you hope
what you dream
what you think
what you don’t do
don’t eat don’t read
don’t say don’t dream of
don’t hope for
don’t watch don’t believe

you are that

the truncheon evil
enforcers of codes
rules regulations grades
assignments deadlines
do’s and don’ts

will they rise above
riptide of stupid
adults stale concepts
misanthropic ideas
mean patriotism
lunatic nationalism
fanatical Christianity?

Is this survival of
fittest dog eat
dog small fish
big pond follow
the crowd don’t
make waves stay
in box?

School.

Paul Kirk Haeder has covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/ community journalism in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, and PK12 distrcits. He organized part-time faulty. His book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. He blogs from Waldport, Oregon. Read his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.