So I actually did assign that free-write today, and they rocked it. We talked for a full forty-five minutes about how the world would end. All on their own they realized that the end of the world and then of civilization as we know it are different, and divided their catastrophes accordingly, into man and nature categories. And, at least two students recognized the songs I hummed as I put their ideas on the board…this one:
and this one:
Which is fun and makes me feel less old.
If I had second doubts about teaching the emotionally-disturbed teens The Road, they are quelled. These kids have though this stuff through before. These are the kids for whom Osama Bin Laden was the biggest boogieman of all time. They remember the people jumping from towers the way we remember flashes of the Gremlin movie, or the sacriest parts of ET. It was awful, the way college students paraded when he was captured, but we have to remember how young they were when all they heard on TV and in grown-up discourse was terror terror terror. And that hasn’t stopped since. How could we think that that exposure wouldn’t cause them to dream in terror? Do we have any doubt about why they are medicated for anxiety? People, we did that to them. And even though my students know little of politics, now (we’re working on it), they are sharply aware of honesty, and they know bluster when they hear it, and they are having none of it. Gives me hope.
This is why I read this book, Life Doesn’t Frighten Me At All, by Maya Angelou and with illustrations by Jean Michael Basquiat to my girls, and why I turn off the radio whenever the news starts talking warfare or bodies. Here is Maya Angelou reading it:
Anyway, they brainstormed lots of ways we could end, and then lots of ways the earth would end, and the most astute (and arguably the most spectrum-y beautiful girl in class) said, “well, I think there’s no doubt that we’ll mess things up beyond our repair, and then nature will finish it off”. And the rest of the class agreed. They do have hope, though. They agree that The Road is the greatest argument for disarmament that they’ve ever encountered (and it may be the only one, because I had to teach some of them that word), but I think there is hope. I’m going to stop poemcrastinating and poem something before HP gets home.
Today the mountains are layered back, way back, six times back, in hues starting with lightest lakewater to brackish navy, and this is the best time teach how we imagine the end in fire. Fire season came early upon us, and dreaming the end is easy when the sun is smokelit and tangerine, and the clouds near to reach are salmon, then dun, then gray. What could be the cause, the teacher may ask. Man, they say, and here’s how: warfare, nuclear, dirty, bioweapons, ecological collapse, fracking and big soil poison, economic collapse, because none of them can fathom how we’d get on without money, and they recognize that good would sift out and leave the rest to hurt us, and finally, robots. What about nature? says the teacher. Well, solar flares. Asteroids, black holes, colliding galaxies, a red giant, an inevitable supervolcano, and finally aliens. And in between? Some matrix stuff, some inception stuff. Maybe we aren’t really here at all. Maybe we never have been. And Bhwheeewww. So tell me, she says, the teacher, what do you do when the world ends? Fill up the bathtub. Find the parkas, because it’s about to get cold. Band together, we the seekers of light, those who wouldn’t hurt the dogs. We make a band as big as any vela flash, and we stick close, we huddle, us, the seekers of light. Canned goods and bathbombs, says the prepper, son of a government worker who works for the agency that knows all, and all of a sudden the teacher wonders why he knows so much, what does he know? Not as much as he wants too. She gains traction in the fact that she knows how to forage, and can, and preserve. She preserves things in great tight glasses with tight waterbathed lids, and when she wakes in the great pink dawn, the light breaks through the brine, and it is a rainbow. They want to know how, and she will tell them if they learn the three living words, the words are “hope” and “action” and “love”. Can we get out from under this fire, they ask. Where does it come from? From the west and from the south, depending on the winds. Will it hurt us? Not yet, not yet if you learn the skies, and not yet if you learn that this is the land that we would scorch, you’ve said yourselves, we’ll do it,
unless you learn to read it.
Another end of the world poem. Good stuff, at least in the classroom. Night, poemies.
Here’s just another thing I’ve been listening to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaCgtNKqb7E