Guest Poet Michelle West

Affirmative Disaster

You came to us
although it was a bit more 
like they threw you at us
	through affirmative action
	Though what exactly you affirmed,
	I am still unsure.
	Your action, 
now there is a subject
	so nonexistant, we would pinch
sagging skin with dirty fingernails
	just to make sure, you know.
Your lips painted fierce orange
would twist into screams to high heavens
but we knew heaven didn't hear you.
Your legs were like small oaks
	lumbering to the green chalkboard.
	Your breath, you must have left it
	at that old notty pine board desk
	Cuz, you gasped for air and eyeballed us
                  like we had taken it away.
	You were so quick to try take us down
	just an unnoticed peg or two.
	We never minded much,
or maybe it was just the overlooked fact
	that we couldn't understand a word you said
through your heavy lisp, and
cigarette thunder of a voice.
	That aid would explain worksheets
	to the simple minds that, 
you were allowed to grow.
	I sit in awe at this horrific display
	I have been highly educated, by myself
	I stand less than half your size
Haven't taken teachers exams or even,
had a ninth birthday, but I could do your job
with not only ease, but eloquence.
	But now, what would that affirm.

June, 1998

Michelle West's Questions:

1.) Does this seem as though it would profit from being in 3rd person?

2.) Does the ending, just fall in your lap?

3.) Does the imagery work,  or does it not paint a clear picture?

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Moments In Time

Thank you, Michelle

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The Albany Poetry Workshop