Sunday, February 17, 2013

get schooled

the halls were full with the little ones
in the early ‘60s
supplicants in white shirts and clip-on ties
read write repeat
under four-foot tall
some always bigger
zigging, hugging the wall
to avoid mushy sawdust piles
randomly located on polished tile floors

funky shaped heads
brylcreem enfused hair
slicked, curled, waved
girls – no teased hair – shrieking mandate
from mother superior
she hates cotton candy

wander the halls
to sister so-and-so’s first grade class
find your seat
fold your hands
look straight ahead
raise your hand to be excused to the restroom
sister, it’s too late for chuck
          oh my
why do i sit behind him
fate doom divine punishment

served three years
in that parochial penitentiary
ball point pen jab head shots
          pay attention
taped mouth
          stop talking
stand in corner
arms out---stretched shaking
palms up
books stacked in each
          sticking up for some bullied kid
          at recess
down to her secret office
braided leather whip threat

mom and dad figured it out
a new bus, a new route
forehead stuck to the window
           alone and already far away
to some progressive pastoral
run out of order
by our lady

had to go back
once more
to add a new name
and confirm
it was still there
four years later

forty years later
walls still stand
by the ideas
that built them

i won't be back again

©Eusebeia Philos 2013

Posted for dVersePoets~Poetics - Hosted by Mary

photo credit:


  1. walls still stand by the ideals that built them...what a haunting line that is...and thank goodness i was never sent to one...far too many horror stories...i would def not go have shown me that...smiles.

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  2. That is/was quite a place of discipline and rigid training ~ The ways of caring and nurturing the children have changed considerably these years ~ And yes, I wouldn't go back there again ~

    1. Can you imagine? The 'good old days' doesn't always hold.

  3. It is good to be able to remember those days, but also good not to have to live through again!

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you. I appreciate the visit and comment.

  5. this brought me to the stories my father would tell me of his time in Catholic School during the early 50's - it made me appreciate my public school in the early 90's ;) - wonderful write ~ Rose

    1. Yes, completely different eras, aren't they? Thank you for the visit, Rose.

  6. ..reading the Cohen posts late but found this interesting...sad it wasn't a more enjoyable time for you and there is a stunted cadence here that gives the poem force when read aloud..def a sense of place ;)

    1. Thanks for the feedback, katy. It helps to know what others experience.