Joan McNerney – “The Teacher”

She hoped some would leave,
rise above dirty factory gates
past plumes of smoke spewing
from the cement plant.

Occasionally when they were discussing
great American novels, the walls
shook. Ravines were blasted
for more rocks to crush into powder.

She wished they would not become
clerks for soulĀ­less chain stores
or cooks in fast food joints where
smells of burning grease lingered.

What was the use of teaching literature
and poetry to these children who would
soon grow listless? Their spirits grinded
down like stones in the quarry.


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