“Examination” by Mark Kowgier

5. Fill in the Blank

A room full of teenagers
staring at their reflections
in a wall-sized mirror.

Music plays as they practice.

Some are synchronized in pairs
reflecting rhyming movements,
laughing when it doesn’t work.

Others are alone.

a part of their body,
the robot shoulder slide.

a part of a pose alive
in the moment of a motion.

to transform a part
away from the whole.

staring silently at the mirror

for a memory in their muscles acting
a part.

I stand
in the margins

the dance breaking
from the brake-dancers.

4. Short Answer

For my Homesick Mexican students
weeping in the back of my class
and sitting in the halls.

For my teary Nigerian student
who wrote: ‘I never want to write again,
I do not want to be an author again,
and it is all your fault’.

I will write you a story
and sing you a sad
quiet song.

l will not say that everything is going to be okay.
You know that already
and it still hurts.

So instead the story
and the sad song.

One day
a plane
flying somewhere.

One day

‘one day
I will grow wings’.

I didn’t feel any better
but I felt something.
An emptiness

3. True or False:

too early
talking myself awake
too loudly:

“What do I have to do? I don’t know. All I know is that I need to take a poop.”

Step around the corner
the Principal sits
reading the paper.

Forgotten I’d said hello to him
on the way in. On the way out
he gave me no answer.

2. Multiple Choice

a) Yesterday.
b) Was worried I am starting to like Paul more than John.
c) Favourite English names chosen by Chinese Students:
d) One, and his best friend Zero.
e) Zero’s haiku:
f) Education Good.
g) Education Serious.
h) Educational.
i) Today,
j) Tree came after school,
k) She was crying.
l) Tomorrow,
m) We will make space for others.
n) Like us.
o) Searching.
p) It was her idea:
q) A Wall of Poetry and Music.
r) An empty white paper space hidden in the back Music hallway.
s) Instructions written on a record: take a marker/listen to a song you love/ and let go.
t) The next day,
u) It was full.
v) An emptiness disappearing.
w) And in the end
x) Remember and ask

1. Word Problem

I am still searching
in the back of a staff meeting.
Things I know are true: this is normal, that confusion is nothing special, I cut all of my hair off like my mother.

Explaining death to children. In class today I said that death is dumb and I mimed calling God and complaining. Who am I to complain? Who I am to remain quiet? Who am I to weigh the merits of complaint and complicity?

Should I be crying more?
I should be crying more.

Using words to sob where my body won’t
like the weather
pathetic fallacy
correlation does not equal causation
when it rains I should feel the same as when the sun is shining
when it rains I should feel the same but when I find out someone I love might be dying
I start searching again.

I used to think about this during the long bus rides home from school.
Friends, family, gone.
I cried too often in public, in school, as a child.
I know that now.

Tree came to me with a confusing idea.
I don’t understand it but
I want to believe
life is a place
where these things can happen
if you choose to keep trying.
Life is not just counting the sunny days
before you die;
always stuck in the middle
a learning teacher teaching learners
passing by.

Profile: Mark Kowgier

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