smudging outside the lines


my rebel heart is weary today, having grown
tired of A-B-C (D,F) and 1+1 incessantly =

-ing 2. it’s ready to (over)throw all rulers
aside, pride itself instead on burst of color

and spill of kindness and ruffled breeze. it’s
about to sneeze some phrase to page in hopes

that it might not take itself quite so serious
-ly. it needs a break. a song. a giggle. a loud

proud primal scream into the sea. it has fin
-ally memorized its own syllables, and can

even teach a few, if you’re patient.
it’s wearing a skull bandana and a turquoise

tutu and hot dark pink knee socks and it’s got
a few more stops to make before its fashion

statement is complete. it’s got slow feet but a
fast smile, and it’s recently walked a million

miles in strange shoes. it chooses its words
carefully, but then spills more of them than

most. it won’t boast, but it might swell. it’s
got secrets it’ll never tell, and something new

to grasp every day. it’s been more and it’s been
less and it’s at its very bottom best when it’s

real. steal it, if you will. borrow-beg or barter it
to moon. teach it to swoon, and dance and throw

its gushy crimson arms around this whole wide
world and every single person whose rebel heart

is tired and frayed and worn and wishes it had
something else to say, but longs to say it anyway.





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10 Responses to smudging outside the lines

  1. whimsygizmo says:

    **written after attending my kids’ school’s achievement awards.

  2. Maz says:

    Took me along at a pace there. Hope , then not…
    See my words at:

  3. mia says:

    I was afraid you were having to deal with summer school yuckiness. 😦

    “it needs a break. a song. a giggle. a loud
    proud primal scream” I feel this!

    “it’s wearing a skull bandana and a turquoise
    tutu and hot dark pink knee socks” Is this really what you wore? 😉

  4. Let me tell you this: A friend of mine had a child who won every single one of those awards. But then came high school. The awards are great – not taking anything away from those who get them. But they are SO not where it’s all really at. And they certainly do not guarantee the future. The “real” in this poem is where “IT” all is. Valuing family time and moments is where it’s at. Knowing what is truly important and focusing the “real” lessons. I’m with you: those awards things make my heart weary and frayed just thinking of them!

    • whimsygizmo says:

      YES. Here’s the thing…Abby made A-B honor roll, and I sat by an old friend whose daughter received the Straight A deal. According to the paper they sent home, we were permitted to take our kids out to lunch after the ceremony (over their lunch hour, but also during about half an hour or so of normal class time.) When I asked her if she and her daughter were going out, she said no, her daughter was concerned about missing the class time/review for finals. Now, I know everybody’s wired up differently, but it made me sad. And thankful to have a girly whose balance factor includes a very silly lunch with her mama today.

      The other thing is, even the awards warp the “value” factor. Straight A’s “got to” walk up and accept, wheres A-B honor roll just stood up when names were called. So here we are at a ceremony meant to celebrate my extremely hard-working girl (this stuff does NOT come easy for her), and she is still made to feel ‘less than.’ It’s a little bit maddening, really. And I fear for the kids who are incredible traditional students now, but as soon as something gets hard and they get a B (or God forbid, a C), they may freak out, and feel like they’ve lost part of their identity. I was that student once upon a time. It’s terrifying.

      • whimsygizmo says:

        And yes, I certainly don’t mean to take anything away from the kids who get these awards, especially the ones who have to work hard to do it. I just feel like there are so many other amazing, creative, outstanding kids who never get recognized for anything…some of them who truly work their butts off for Cs…we seem to value what we can easily measure. I don’t like it.

      • mia says:

        I’d just like to see some more creative awards that would include some of the “out of the box” thinkers, artists, and dare I say it: poets! What about the kids who are friendly every day? Or the ones who are always laughing? The ones who make life fun? I don’t know; it does seem like the focus is on the wrong thing.

  5. Mr. Walker says:

    Thank you. I love it. As a father, I love it. As a teacher, it brings up difficult stuff. I struggle with this all the time. For me it’s about balancing fitting in and being yourself. It’s not easy for kids – nor for crazy poets. But I love where you started with being tired of grades. Me, too! I just want to teach – and not grade kids. It does send the wrong message. Thank you again for this little rebellion.

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