The First Day of School

Under the sign of the A-B-Cs
a teacher auditions for a semester run
as actor, director and stage manager,
standing before a new class
ready to loot and pillage his emotions.

A moment, just a moment of stillness,
before a return to a hue and cry
of gossip, comradery, and spit balls
thrown across the room with an accuracy
of a Major League pitcher,
thirty mouths filling the air with chaos.

Suffering from stage fright and first day jitters,
his balloon of molding young minds
crashing to the hardwood floor,
he turns his back to the mongol horde
who has slashed and burned his enthusiasm
into a thousand humpty-dumpty pieces,
folds his arms and faces
the giant musical notation on the blackboard.

And he waits.

A September breeze eases through the open windows.
One by one student voice after student voice
drops off a cliff until silence fills the air.
The teacher unfolds his arms,
turns to his audience,
and the play begins,
neither a comedy nor a tragedy
but a semester of moments
when stars are born
and Shakespeares emerge
and young minds released
to play with unicorns,
follow yellow brick roads,
and grow wings and fly.

Near 500 words: The gift no one wanted

Dean loved cameras. The expensive ones. The cheap ones. The in-between ones. The smart phone cameras. There wasn’t a camera he didn’t like. When he found an antique camera he didn’t own, it made his day. He was like a kid in a candy store when he went into a camera shop. The salesman handed him the camera and he turned it this way and then that way. He looked through its lens, then he checked out its heft. Then he scanned the room with its viewfinder. Next he tried the focus. All this trial and error could take an hour or more. But the salesman knew he was in the presence of a true professional.

Since he was five years old, cameras were Dean’s life. He couldn’t remember a time when he didn’t have a camera in his hand. He took pictures of everything. You name it, he had taken it. War zones. The poor and the rich. Refugees. Presidents and politicans. Runway models and fashionistas. City streets and country roads. People from all walks of life. He especially loved getting someone working in his frame.

He was seventy when he took to teaching a photography class. It was a new phase of his life, something he never expected. Just when he thought of retiring and cataloguing all his photographs, suddenly there was this new thing that excited him. To show others a love of the thing he loved.

On the first day of class, he had his class grab their cameras and follow him. He took them to the dingiest ugliest kind of place and then said, “Shoot.” They spent a half day there. Then they returned to the classroom and he asked, “What did you learn today?” No one raised their hand. All he said in response to their response was “Um hmm.”

The next time the class met Dean took them to another dingy ugly spot. After a morning there, they went back to the classroom. “What did you learn?” he asked. Nada was the answer. He cancelled the following class one morning with a note, “Go shoot some pictures.”

The next class Dean walked into the classroom. “Okay,” he said. “Who took pictures?”

They all raised their hands.

“Let’s see them.”

Each of the twenty students showed him their shots. They were all selfies.

Dean shook his head, then said, “Go home. Get a job. But don’t take pictures. You’re not worthy.”

Then he walked out of the room, walked over to the Department Head’s office and resigned.

“Dean,” the department head wanted to know. “Why are you quitting?”

Dean shook his head, then said, “I’ve got some pictures to take and I don’t have time for this nonsense.” Then he was gone.