This was assembled with little ceremony.
The chairs hunkered down beneath desks
beneath little minds ablur with little thought –
Grooves and swirling stripes covered the desks and brains,
paying homage to neither.
At the last, the wrinkles came about as a result,
instead of as a cause. I didn’t always believe.
Under the wrong impression I had used to link
intelligence with age and wrinkles.
I liked to connect wisdom to time
mostly because I knew everyone else was
in the habit of it.
A kind of herd mentality overcame me
because I surrendered with little resistance.
I did not hunker down in the proper kind of foxholes.
It happened to me as it did to countless others:
they taught me to fight their wars,
and mostly because I wanted the high marks,
I fought them all, and so hard my fingers leached
graphite and little wisps of construction paper.
I remember that when I was thirsty,
out from the fountains there gushed crisp, clean, refreshing anesthetic.
And with the abrupt ringing of the bell
(Though I eagerly anticipated it, each time
it startled me – and the massive risk
hanging from each moment of freedom
struck me dumb while I shouted
and leapt with the other children
who were soldiers) I loved
to race the sound of clanging metal to the swings
or to the jungle gym or to the cool green field.
Any of these places formed a battleground,
but their skirmishes – unlike the others – still touch me to this day.
To the great generals who are listening:
do you want strategy?
Do you want victories that last and territory,
territory whose whole expanse could not submit
to any length of searching despite the use
of a lifetime, yet fits within a little body?
Search, then, the hearts of your children.
Conquer your fear of submission,
And authoritatively submit.