Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem-torn February 1, 2016

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:59 am
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There at the bottom of the bag

is that precious photo

of the beloved man, now gone.

You have torn it into shreds,

torn my respect for you,

torn my love of you,

torn my heart in two.

It was not enough that he adored

and worshipped you?

You were blinder than him,

though he had the account with CNIB.

Your bitterness is poison

and I will not drink it.

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poem-new day again November 20, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 5:19 pm
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Every day you approach the computer

“What are we doing again?”  I show you where to see the assignment.  I review the expectations, the objectives, the criteria.

“Oh!  Okay!  I get it!” you say, and set to work.

The next day, we do it again.

Today you stare at me with blank, hollow eyes.

“I don’t get it,” you say.

Everyone else is busily working.  You’ve been absent.  When you come, you have to study for a test in another subject.  Or see the counselor.  Or help your friend.  In fourteen hours of research time, you’ve been here for eight.  Do you have anything to show for the time?  Others have the list of the websites they consulted, pages of notes, excitement over how they’ll turn research into a presentation next week.

You have confusion.

The same confusion from the first day. Repeated again.  Some days we can help you.  Some days you are confident and productive.

But nothing stays in your memory more than an hour.

Other days you are sullen and oppositional, because you’re sure  you’ve never seen this before, and you’re angry about it.

“This is stupid.”

What more can I do? I ask.  They tell me your parents refuse to have you tested.  They don’t want you to have a label, so we don’t know if this is a cognitive impairment, learning disability, or the results of drug use or a sports injury.  A label comes with funding to give you the additional support you plainly need.  Keep repeating expectations.  Keep explaining the criteria.  I agree.  This is stupid.

The course is almost over and you return each day to week one,  living a personal Groundhog Day loop,

and no one knows how to pull you out.

 

poem- censored September 15, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 5:56 pm
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You do not believe in censorship

you say

and yet you sit there and complain that

I accept work with curses.  Work that is

about process, about drafting, about stretching.

I do not censor youthful voices

that may want to shout,

to try new language, new words.

We learn about audience and persona

and your child is allowed to stretch her wings

to try on new faces and expressions with me.

She is allowed to find her voice in my class room,

even if her voice

is louder than you like.

 

poem- named August 3, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:33 pm
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“Herb had to take me to the hospital this morning,” my mom said.  “My blood pressure was all wonky and I had a headache.  I was afraid I was having a stroke.”

Herb.  My father, who died last week.  I caught my breath.

“Stewart took you to the hospital?” I suggested.  My brother.

“Yes,” she confirmed, her tone suggesting I was being obtuse.  “But everything was all right.  They told me I need to get a massage.  I’m just tense, over the events of the last week.”

She didn’t even know she’d said the wrong name.

I didn’t point it out.

“I’m glad everything is okay, Mom,” I said.

 

poem-flames February 7, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:52 pm
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She’s caught between the flames

of inferno and ice

Accusations of blame,

of who’s not playing nice.

She’s caught between the fury

of defeat and aggression,

For neither is sorry

and all leads to depression.

She’s caught between love

crushed between hate

a magician’s dove

that is stuffed then must wait.

She’s caught between threads

stuffed up their sleeves

’til she’s dangling her head

beneath the nearest trees.

 

 

poem-voyageur January 26, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:44 am
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So you packed your canoe,

left a good man,

gave away that puppy,

you’d given to

those good boys,

those sweet little boys,

and rowed off to find yourself

on a river of their tears.

I hope the discovery

proves worth it

in the end.

 

commentary- Dear Parents of BC September 18, 2014

Filed under: Teaching — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:40 am
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The following is my own opinion.  After discussions with many friends and colleagues, I feel secure in using a collective ‘we’ rather than the singular ‘I’.  We’re voting to ratify a negotiated contract, and the vote is in no way guaranteed.  However it goes, here’s what many of us are feeling.

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Dear Parents of BC:

Every year at the end of the school year, teachers with continuing contracts wave off the students, worn out from a long year and a longer month (June is always that way), bid farewell to the growing ranks of our colleagues on temporary contracts, and lock up our class rooms.

We leave the building pondering the challenges of the year.  We analyze our successes and failures.  Which lessons or units worked well?  Which students had unimagined gains?  Which strategies will we try again?  How will we modify them?  Perhaps we record our thoughts.  Perhaps we let it go.  We breathe.

We walk through our front doors, and introduce ourselves to our spouses and children.  For about three weeks we focus on them.  We relax.  We recharge.

Somewhere around BC Day, we start thinking about the next year.  We consider units.  We research.  We file ideas.   By the middle of the month we may be back in our rooms, hanging borders, photo copying, making posters, preparing for a new year.  We are enthused by our plans, by the potential of the year to come.  We are invigorated and enthused to face the kids, the challenges, the meetings, the classes that get switched up at the last moment.

By Labour Day, we’re ready.    We are energized and ready for the year.

Not this year.

This year we face our class rooms with a weariness that weighs down our bones.  We have been vilified, lied to, and lied about by our employer, the Provincial Government.  We, who have sacrificed our time to other people’s kids, who have shored up years of under-funding with our own money purchasing supplies for our class rooms, have been fined 10% of our wages because we were no longer volunteering our time, and called greedy, to boot.  We have stood up for our rights, and faced jeers.  We have explained about our Charter Rights and Supreme Court decisions.  We have argued with strangers, friends, and loved ones about different definitions of ‘benefits.’  We have discussed massages and propaganda.  We have educated with a passion and effort that rivals our most challenging classes.  We have learned that ignorance is a special need, requiring a skilled approach.  We have given up thousands of dollars of salary to stand up for public education in BC.

We have been embattled.

We have been besieged.

We have been drained.

We have sacrificed our emotional, mental, financial, and physical health in this fight.

We don’t have anything more to give.

We need you.

We need you to continue to fight for public education.

We need you to keep pressure on this government.

We may have a contract, but it is not the contract that will provide the best services for your kids.  It may be the best we could have gotten from this government, but it is not good enough for BC’s kids.

So we are passing the baton.

We will teach.  We will give our very best.  But this year, our best is not going to be our all.  We don’t have anything left in us.

When your child is not going to receive the testing he should have, we’ll tell you.  You can phone our MLA, Mr. Fassbender, and Ms. Clark and demand to know why your child isn’t getting the support she needs.  When we don’t have tissue paper during flu season, or enough textbooks, or are using the same textbook you wrote your name in twenty years ago, please write the Ministry of Education and demand that they fund schools properly.

When no one is available to coach the basketball team, please step up.  When a dance needs supervision, please volunteer.  You’ll see why we love doing these things.  You’ll understand why after a work day, they are an exhausting add on!

The government can dismiss teachers as greedy whiners, but it can’t dismiss an army of enraged, engaged parents.

Your kids deserve better than what they’ve been getting for the last twelve years.

We can’t fight alone any longer.

We’re weary.

We need you.

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(c) Shawn L. Bird.

http://www.shawnbird.com/commentary-dear-parents

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(Feel free to reprint and redistribute this as you like, but please respect my copyright, and leave my name and the link on it).

Proper citation: Bird, Shawn L.  “Commentary-Dear Parents of BC” http://www.shawnbird.com/commentary-dear-parents-of-BC collected (insert date).

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Sept 19/2014

NB-  This is my blog.  

I am a teacher.  I am declaring how I feel after a bitter fight against an unreasonable government with its own agenda.  This is MY reality, and the reality of 40,000 of my colleagues.  We’re entitled to our feelings. 

If you think that  I don’t work hard enough, I don’t care enough about my job, or I am whining, feel free to leave your opinions inside your own head.  I will not reprint them.  We’ve been fighting against such ignorance all summer. I have no patience with it now.

The Supreme Court said twice that this government bargained in bad faith, and they used all the same tactics this time.  If they had been willing to negotiate last June, this would have been settled last June.  They have lied to you, and  they’re laughing at how easily you are manipulated.  

I am thankful for the parents (and perhaps the Chinese ambassador) who put pressure on this government to finally come to the table.  I don’t think the government anticipated your fury being turned on them; their expensive spin doctors are likely losing their jobs.

Be thankful for those who are willing to stand up for public education.  If you’re a parent, please keep up the fight, because this government is not done yet.  We’ll be beside you once we’ve recovered.

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