Monday, August 30, 2010

A reunion ride on board the old School (Poetry) Bus

The Poetry Bus owned and managed by TFE is driven this week by Karen. She is a bona fide schoolmarm, as she explains HERE with her instructions for this week's lesson.

Before I go any further let me confess outright that I am cheating this week. The photo and poem below may be familiar to a few of you because I posted it at my blog in August 2009. I'm sorry for cheating, Karen, and I hope you won't kick me off the bus. It's just that this poem says everything I ever wanted to say about high school. It also happens to be one of only two poems I ever had published out there in the big world that they said we got the golden key to in those graduation speeches.





The Reunion

Our colors whipped red and white,
the married assistant coach
preferred high school virgins,
chili dripped from an exit sign
in the cafeteria
after the food fight

and I was a chrysalis
plotting escape.

Pompon mothers will be there
cheering "yuppie" in place of
"yipp-ee"
ten years later
and paunchy jocks,
punting questions about divorce,
will guzzle scotch instead of beer.

They'll forget that their
most-likely-to-succeed
stoned on acid
killed his twin brother

the star quarterback
caught a grenade
in Vietnam

the girl who won
best body
vanished after the pomp,
and circumstance produced
a butterfly.

                  © MLydiaM 


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21 comments:

the watercats said...

There is such poignancy in this poem.. I'm not sure I could go to a school reunion.. it would be too weird. I particularly love the imagery of the butterfly. Also love the new set up :-)

Totalfeckineejit said...

Great poem Lydia,love the yippee to yuppie and the notion of the chysalis plotting escape.Glad you turned into a butterfly.I turned into a moth!

Fireblossom said...

That last stanza is marvelously clever. High school...it seems to me that most of us hated it, and for the ones who loved it, that was their high point.

Have you ever seen the movie "Jennifer's Body"? It turns a lot of this stuff on its ear and was written by Diablo Cody. It's priceless.

Martin H. said...

I really liked this. And you've reminded me why I never attend reunions.

Argent said...

I like the initial tartness of this which ends with such sweetness.

Doctor FTSE said...

I love the ambiguous last stanza. So may possible interpretations

Darlene said...

You captured High School and the after years so well.

I did attend two reunions, but we were all so old the jealousies and nonsense was forgotten. And some did live up to the predictions; strange to say.

La Belette Rouge said...

I absolutely love and relate to that line: I was a chrysalis plotting escape. Beautiful.
I have never been to a HS reunion and I will never go to one.

Lydia said...

the watercats~ Thanks for every word.
Don't give up entirely on the idea of attending a reunion.....be the band!

totalfeckineejit~ Thanks for being here again this week and for your comments!
I have always loved butterflies, but gained a special appreciation for moths a few summers ago after reading Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.

Fireblossom~ Thanks much for your comments. No, I've not seen nor heard of that movie and will look for it. Sounds like one I'd like, most definitely. ;)

Martin H.~ Glad you liked it. I heard that the last reunion was "the best ever" but would I have thought the same thing? :)

Argent~ Hmmm, tartness. That's an interesting word to describe it. Tastes like teen spirit!

Doctor FTSE~ You are new here! Thanks for commenting about the poem; much appreciated.

Darlene~ Thank you.
It makes sense that the older people get the more forgiving and more understanding they would be not only of one another, but of themselves.

Belette Rouge~ Aw, thanks.
Your opinion about reunions is interesting. My sis, who is also a therapist, has never attended any of hers either. There'd be so much for you to observe in that kind of setting!

Rhiannon said...

I certainly relate to this post Lydia. I suppose many of us can. I hated H.S. and like your poem states, many from my class either died of drug overdoses, or murdered someone, or the "fab" cheerleader later lost their figures. Some got AIDS and past on..some are in prison. Some of us (like me)never went to a reunion. My former best GF from H.S. went on and on for over 20 years telling me how she loved going to all the reunions and "showing them" how great she looked and her figure and how "they were all losers",the ones who she saw at the reunion. I never liked it when she would tell me all these things, I think she was insecure about it. But we were connected as friends either via letter, phone calls or e-mail and a trip or two to visit one another all these years. However when the Iraq war started and I told her I didn't think it was right and I was very concerned about "the consequences" she got very upset with me, sent vast amounts of e-mail "lecturing" me why I was "wrong" and Bush and "they" were "right"...well yeah they are "Right"...wingers at that! I wonder from time to time my concerns and worries about the war ever come to her mind now? I think I mentioned my former GF from H.S. to you already..sorry for the repeat.

It did hurt that I lost her friendship through a horrific war and our differences in opinions. I never put her down for her beliefs but when she slammed me for mine I guess that was it.

Her and I did have fun in H.S. though..we were the "outsiders" just wanting to graduate and get the "hell" out of there. Freedom!

Got cool here real fast...am loving it and so is my body! Looks like one more heatwave coming and then were due for Autumn! Love, Rhi

Jinksy said...

This deserved a scond airing, so no cheating involved that I can see!Looking back can take the shine off things...

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

not cheating at all - i think lots of people have spare poems stuck in drawers waiting for a good airing - this was great and i could really associate with the ideas of people never turning out how they were expected too.

Thank you so much for sharing

Freda said...

Powerful poem. Doesn't mean quite the same in the UK because of the schooling differences, but I get the gist of it, or do I!!

Lydia said...

Rhi~ That is a sad ending to what had been a nourishing long-term friendship. I like to think that any of my old friends whose lives and values have taken them in different directions would still want to stay in touch, but it isn't always going to work out that way.
The poem is partially fact, partially fiction--in the sense that those things happened but not all necessarily in my particular class.

Jinksy~ Thanks much. I never did see a shine in the high school experience. If anything the years have mellowed my memory!

Pixies~ Glad you liked it. For the most part it has been possible to track along as those peoples' lives happened (and as quite a few have died). There are a few, however, that I haven't a clue as to where they are or who they became, or even if they are still alive. Makes them seem mysterious!

Freda~ Thank you.
I have always been fascinated by the differences in school systems around the world.

Peter Goulding said...

A most productive period for circumstance. Very engaging. I've never even been asked to a reunion, though that's understandable.

Dick said...

Powerful and poignant. Oh, the risks of revisiting 'the land of lost content'!

Lydia said...

Peter Goulding~ Thank you for your comments and you create a sense of mystery by saying it is "understandable" that you would not have been invited to a reunion!

Dick~ Many thanks. I appreciated your visit and comments.

Karen said...

One thing I discovered while teaching high school and having students come back later was that the jocks and the popular girls often peak right there, sadly, at seventeen.

Lydia said...

Karen~ Sorry to be late in replying. I noticed that at the last reunion I went to (chose not to attend the most recent), but to have a teacher's view on the progression (or lack thereof) of former students must be fascinating.
To be fair, many from that crowd - at least from my class - have gone on to build impressive careers, many of them in professional fields. Basically, it was a good bunch of highly talented, autonomous individuals back then...and now.

Abhilasha-The Desire said...

I would'nt say that I can relate to it because of the schooling-culture differences, but yeah that's for sure that sometimes who who you thnk will def be something turns out to be nothing and the ones you never expected come out with flying colors like a butterfly... smiles....

Enjoyed reading it

Lydia said...

Abhilasha~ Not that you will ever find this, but I just now realized I did not thank you for your comment last year. As a result of some recent hits on this post I paid it a visit and there was your sweet comment. Many (belated) thanks.

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