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First Day of School

Surrounded by apple-faced children
swinging bright colored lunch pails,
bent like the aged under the weight
of heavy backpacks,
a young girl navigates
the freshly waxed hallway
like a skater on thin ice.
Two pairs of socks on each small foot
keep her hand-me-down shoes
from slipping off,
and a threadbare dress hangs like a sack  
on her thin rack of bones,
hiding the red welts on her back,
the rainbow of bruises on her thighs.
Her eyes are wide with wonder
as she moves past the white walls
of hope and salvation;
for this is the place, she's been told,
where promises are made,
where dignity can be restored,
where no child will be left behind.

12 Jun 09

Rated 9 (9) by 2 users.
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Inactive (1): 8, 9

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revised and reposted.
 — PaulS

    i don't understand L 3,4  although i agree with the dented lunch pails , i like that...
the poor innocent young girl... it is hard to understand her beatings, these days your ass would be in a sling... every line has meaning... promises have been made, dignity can be restored, no child left behind... which is a stretch these days except for certain races... my sons are just able to squeeze by with fake grades... j.g. smiles    as usual PaulS you do it well !
 — goeszon

Thanks goeszon.  I understand what you say about no child being left behind--I think the poem conveys that with sarcasm.
 — PaulS

Paul, I really enjoyed this till line 17.  The "broken doll" nature of this poem is really touching, but line 17 onwards reads (to me) like a pamphlet by dubya to congress.  The tragedy is lost, and the hope is vague.  But I do like this very much, bar the end.
 — Haxxen

 — Haxxen

Awesome.  I love line 14, with the juxtaposition of a beautiful rainbow and ugly bruises.  
From line 17 on, I lose interest.  I liked the concrete images of the beginning and the detailed physical descriptions.  I am disappointed by the sudden shift into abstract values like "hope" and "salvation", and a sudden political stance at the end.  The spacing at the end also bothers me.  It looks as if the top chunks of the poem are balancing on a few threadbear lines.  Maybe that was your point?  If it was meant to be a comment on how the real lives of children depend on such a weak educational system and flimsy, abstract ideals, then I like it.  The tone of irony works at the end, in that case.
 — SodaKid

I mean "threadbare".
 — SodaKid

Haxxen:  Thanks for the read, but don’t take from 17 on as literal—read between the lines.
SodaKid:  You are right on target with the last part of your comment.  It’s an indictment of  Bush’s, No Child Left Behind act—it does not work—the socio-economic factors of life will leave many children behind.  Thanks for reading.
 — PaulS

Heh... well then I like it.  However, the irony/sarcasm isn't obvious.  maybe it shouldn't be.  Soda is one observant beverage.
 — Haxxen

Thanks for revisiting Haxxen.
 — PaulS

I made a few changes--think its meaning is much clearer.
 — PaulS

Class poem...Some schools are like that but others......?
 — larrylark

Thanks for the comment larylark.
 — PaulS