Monday, February 23, 2009

Poetry Train: Anger is an undressing

Nick is one of my students. He was abused horribly as a kid and now has anger management issues. Unfortunately, no one told me about this and I used the wrong tone of voice with him and he blew! He called me every name in the book, threw his Othello book across the room into the back wall, and kicked my garbage can and every locker on his way to the office.

I've been teaching for almost thirty years and nothing like this has ever happened in my classroom before. I was majorly upset but, the next day, when I'd had time to absorb it and after learning about his background, I wrote the following poem.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anger is an undressing
and you disrobed
in front of my eyes,
not slowly
but all at once~
buttons flying
cotton ripping
zippers screeching.

I wish I had
soft yarn
and could knit
a sweater
for you.


lissa said...

what a great respond, anger is like an outfit that tears and rips, I like that it ends with a sweater which to me signals a warmth or something that is comforting

Richard said...

Wow! Great energy and imagery in that first stanza, and a compassionate finish. Wonder if you'd consider dropping the word "Today," as it dilutes what follows - just an opinion of course.

As I recall, you have a wonderful series of school day poems that are tough and troubling.

Anonymous said...

about 15 years ago i through the dust bin over the class, hurt my (honestly too nice teacher) and left. i could see my self in your words. i have not that such background but was the same (not much more i must say), i cannot recall her response later, but yours made something move in me. i wish i could thank her now for her attitude.
the last year i was working with 'problematic' kids and watching your response help me to look at myself again.
thanks for both and all

Anonymous said...

really heartfelt .. healing !!

Deeptesh said...

Wow this is offbeat!Loved the imagery.I'm Deeptesh from the poetry train.Do visit me as well at

floreta said...

oh this is so beautiful! my heart reaches out to kids like that... wouldn't he get some sort of IA??

Fledgling Poet said...

Oh! I have a lump in my throat from your beautiful much feeling expressed so simply. Your compassion for this poor boy shows very clearly...I hope things get better for him.

anthonynorth said...

Beautiful words of understanding.

gautami tripathy said...

Linda, this is absolutely beautiful. Being a treacher, I understand this well. No matter what, we gotta knit that sweater. And we do in our own ways.

I will remember this poem.

Stan Ski said...

I have a wardrobe full of such sweaters - it should have taken just one.

Tumblewords: said...

Linda - this is powerful and well worded - I can feel the anger and your response...wonderful...

SweetTalkingGuy.. said...

Linda, You're Amazing!!!

Julia Smith said...

I used to work with preschool kids, and one kid whose mom was dying of cancer had anger problems. Unfortunately, even knowing this didn't alter the fact that I could not stand this kid. I came within an inch of slapping him in the face when he spit into mine. He could see me wrestle the devil in order to twist my swinging hand so that it clamped over his mouth instead of hitting him. I had no idea I would have that reaction, as I had never been spit at before. Everything went into slo-mo. It was bizarre and intense. But I've always known that he at least witnessed someone whose intention had clearly been to hit, turn that action into something non-violent.

Your poem is eloquent and resists a longer length. It's fantastic.

Captain Molecule said...

That is truly beautiful. Anger is indeed an undressing, and brings similar shame once you gather yourself and control the anger. Excellent!

Jill said...

This poem is amazing...

I've seen students act like that before, but your response is totally unexpected.

I love the imagery, fyi.

Linda's Poems