I fell in love with the honesty:
Poetry was simple deceptions masking great truths,
Music was not really the food of love
but it fills the heart like a good meal,
provides nutrition for the admission that life
is worth dancing to.
I fell hard and I fell too fast not to get whiplash in 7th grade,
when my teacher with tinted glasses and no eyes to speak of asked,
"What did the poet mean?"
Lifting my head from the words on the page,
"they meant what they said."
Her hand covered Edgar's song,
she leaned forward and whisper-shouted "Wrong".
With simple sickening syllables a mirror was shattered.
The glass spread around the pages of my english textbook.
I cut my hand on Dickinson's simplicities
left them in fractals frozen on paper
caged and confined within Exam paper lines.
No longer could we stop by woods on a snowy evening,
without bringing the glare of the sun to illuminate
what lay behind each tree.
We sat at our desks and forced each stanza to walk in front of us,
like an albatross caught in a net
We cut deep for meaning that we couldn't quite get;
carefully surgically taking every word and twisting it
even as rhyme schemes pulled back, resisting it.
No longer was poetry something to be stumbled upon
something to fall in love with
someone to fall in love with
Langston Hughes no longer stood beneath city street lamps:
familiar low lit lines under autopsy lights.
Plath's vulnerable sentiments were broken apart
and I held the scalpel and a red pen,
breaking them and reconstructing them again and again.
In 7th grade I lost my honest poets.
I'm only just getting them back.
But I shudder to recall the way I had to doubt their words,
to use their lives to pretend to know them,
What once was a love story between a little kid and hallowed books,
turned into a science fiction novel of second looks.
Love was not in the multiple choice.
Passion was not an acceptable short answer.
We stopped up all edges where real meaning might have leaked
with photocopied lessons and crumpled sheets of Keats.