Pragmatism

By Ron Yazinski

Early in my career, I could interest a class in Shakespeare

By referencing sex.

But that was long ago.

Now they sit as if they’re all suffering jet lag,

Having caught the red-eye from the land inside their video games,

Where they were on patrol until daybreak;

And though I tease them by saying the next generation of games

Is going to shoot a charge through the controller

So that each time their character is shot,

They’ll feel a jolt,

Like they will at the end of Romeo and Juliet,

They don’t buy it.

*

Of course, as their teacher I’m partly responsible

For not being animated enough.

But as their teacher, I blame the parents.

*

When I first started,

A father might spend a Saturday morning

With his six year old daughter and seven year old son,

Taking them down the coal mine in which he worked.

Together they would ride the elevator to the bottom of the shaft.

And there in the cold damp air, hundreds of feet below ground,

Where the children could lick the coal dust that stuck to their teeth,

He would switch off the lights

And then let go of their little hands.

And they’d wait in the complete darkness

Until both shrieked and cried because they felt the brush of rats

Against their ankles.

Then he’d turn on the lights,

Kneel down so that he was level with their tear-grimed faces,

And sternly say, “Study.”

Before he’d take them back to the dawn.

___

Ron Yazinski is a retired English teacher who lives in Northeastern Pennsylvania with his wife Jeanne.

His poems have or will soon appear in Mulberry Poets and Writers Association, Strong Verse, The Bijou Review, The Edison Literary Review, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Centrifugal Eye, amphibi.us, Nefarious Ballerina, The Write Room, Pulsar, H.O.D. and Crash. He is also the author of the chapbook Houses: An American Zodiac, which was published by The Poetry Library and a book of poems South of Scranton.


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