"Fox & Foghorn" and "Core Curriculum Standards"

Fox & Foghorn 

                 After Tim Seibles


Beware of bunnies
dressed in drag! Beware of samurai
sword wielding terrapins! Watch for anvils
descending from above like secret
telegrams! Here rodents
in diapers pirouette through pantries
teasing felines permutated
as accordions played by hungry
mutts in moonlit piazzas! Beware
of chattering teakettles
and precocious swine slinging
oranges and old leather shoes! Here
nothing is as deadly as a subversive
ironing board blasted
like a bazooka
into rubber
band torsos! Watch for the ricochet
of flying fruit! Steer clear of ACME
merchandise fated to fall
apart faster than a celebrity
marriage! Here we are raised
cell by cell by smarmy
hens determined to deceive us
with mountains disguised as open
highways meant to flatten
faces re-inflated with a bicycle
pump stashed in overalls! Beware
of blueberry pies baked
with TNT served to singing
ducks in top hats! Do not take
offense to being blown to bits
by exploding cigars,
for in the next frame we to return
to the scene spotless and chasing
a sarcastic woodpecker
wearing a gorilla suit
in to a rabbit hole! Never eat ham
sandwiches made by pistol toting
horses! Whenever bearded
feet shove a shotgun in your eye
do not hesitate to tie the barrels
into a pretty bow! Here hazards
come in adorable packages!
Furniture has a social life! Fish
sing in three part harmony!
Their water color habitat
hilarious, two dimensional
and sentient! Here the supreme
survival tool is a boundless
fondness for the senseless!



Core Curriculum Standards

                    Middle School 391


black and brown tiled floors
decorated with candy

wrappers, wet newspapers, rusty
nails. musk of sweat ambles

through hallways where soda
stains gel into accidental frescos.

engraved spider web of cracks
in windows held together

by shrouds of dollar store
electrical tape. incorrigible

cavities burrowed in asbestos
pipes exposed like chocolate

covered cancers. flicker
of fluorescent lights dialing

an S.O.S. hovers above a bulletin
board, a shorn sign stapled

to its edges, pastel letters clipped
from cardboard boasting





                     Morris High School

[Originally named after Peter Cooper, who knew that a free and quality
education was the right of every human. Later rebranded to honor a land
baron, the school has now been christened as a charter school so venture
capitalists can siphon public funds into their coffers. It is here again today
I have had to remove my belt and empty my backpack for having set off
the metal detector. The guard invokes Parkland and Columbine, two
white, middle class communities, to justify why this school’s population
that is entirely black and brown must pass through this checkpoint every
single day. He tells me that before this small yet imposing security
fortress was erected in the school’s lobby he spent all day every day for
eighteen years confiscating knives. I ask him what he has done with this
massive stockpile of blades, which after nearly two decades would have
amounted to at least seven thousand. He ignores the question and frisks
me in front of the students, some of them mine. They all look down or
away from me. Even at fifteen years old they are kind and sensible
enough to offer me the dignity that the department of education has
denied all of us. Three students are also asked to step out of the line and
empty their identities into the hallway to be inspected. Each of them
beyond anger or even irritation, they have already accepted that this is
what it takes to be allowed into the building in order to claim their
chance at learning something today. Do you want another Parkland? The
guard asks me. I respond by asking him why plane crashes are covered by
the news but car crashes are not. And why the richer, whiter school
where I taught just yesterday, a mere four miles south of here, has no
metal detectors. Or even visible security guards. He ignores these
questions too. So I tell him, while I empty my pockets, about the Chicago
high school whose violence all but disappeared once they decided to
eliminate the metal detectors from the building and took the bars off the
school windows. Now he speaks, to say I don’t believe you. Prove it. As he
hands me the pail holding my wallet, keys, and inhaler. He wants proof
that we act as we are treated, but not proof of the existence of the
school to prison pipeline for black youth. Not proof of Jim Crow. Of
Freddie Gray. Of Jasper, Texas. These are not proof enough for him. He
makes me pass once more through the metal egress, and still I set off the
alarm. He’s seen me here every week for seven months, I remind him. He
goes glacier on me. The hall squeaks through the pause. He decides it
must be my shoes. Are they steel toed? He now says he trusts me, I can
go, as the bell conjures gambol and bilingual yammering. I weave my way
into the faculty room just in time to hear one white teacher tell a
colleague such a little thug, that girl is. She’s a pit bull. Another admits
that her first period students said to her if the school were more like
Disney’s High School Musical they’d want to come to school every day.]



Vincent Toro is the author or STEREO.ISLAND.MOSAIC., which was awarded the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award and the Sawtooth Poetry Prize. He is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and recipient of a Poet’s House Emerging Poets Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, The Caribbean Writer’s Cecile De Jongh Poetry Prize, and the Metlife Nuestras Voces Playwriting Award. Vincent teaches English at Bronx Community College, is poet in the schools for Dreamyard and the Dodge Poetry Foundation, is writing liaison for Cooper Union’s Saturday Program, and is a contributing editor at Kweli Literary Journal.

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