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On Education

He always wanted to explain things,
But no one cared.
So he drew.
Sometimes he would draw,
and it wasn't anything.
He wanted to carve it in stone
or write it in the sky,
and it would be only him and the sky and
the things inside him that needed saying.
It was after that he drew the picture.
He kept it under his pillow,
and would let no one see it.
He would look at it every night
and think about it.
When he started school,
he brought it with him,
not to show anyone,
just to have along as a friend.
It was funny about school.
He sat in a square, brown desk,
like all the other square, brown desks.
He thought it should be red.
And his room was a square, brown room,
like all the other square, brown rooms.
It was tight and close and stiff.
He hated to hold the pencil and chalk,
his arms, stiff, his feet flat on the floor, stiff,
the teacher watching and watching.
The teacher came and spoke to him.
She told him to wear a tie
like all the other boys.
He said he didn't like them.
She said it didn't matter.
After that, they drew.
He drew all yellow.
It was the way he felt about morning,
and it was beautiful.
The teacher came and smiled at him.
"What's this?" she said. "Why don't you
draw something like Ken's drawing?
Isn't that beautiful?"
After that, his mother bought him a tie,
and he always drew airplanes and rocketships
like everyone else.
And he threw the old picture away.
And when he lay alone looking at the sky,
it was big and blue and all of everything,
but he wasn't anymore.
He was square inside and brown,
and his hands were stiff.
He was like everything else.
The things inside that needed saying
didn't need it anymore.
It had stopped pushing.
It was crushed.
   STIFF.
Like everything else.

This was said to be written by a high school senior in Alton, Illinois, two weeks before he committed suicide, sometime before 1974.

Editor's Note: Although this poem appears to have questionable roots on the 'net, it still says a great deal.  I've chosen to leave it, with the attribution it had when I received it.  If I learn more, I will post it here.  Thanks.

 


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