Monday, July 20, 2015

"The Gifted Program." A Poem About Being An Outsider

The gifted program at Byron elementary School in 1977 consisted of a box made out of cardboard rigged up in a corner of the room, where one student, me, was sent to read books so as not to be slowed down by the other children. It was impossible as an eight year old to differentiate being "gifted" from being punished for being different. I wrote this poem because nearly forty years later I have trouble deciding if being different is a gift or a curse. 

The Gifted Program at Byron
Elementary School

Was two isolated makehift cubicles
Shoved into one corner
Under a map of Antarctica where me
And Michael  Robinson
Studied humanity

Antarctica is the place where
Special people go,
Ms. Stieglitz said

We spent the year alternately
Being President, Vice President
Ulitimately declaring anarchy
Though the mordent precision
Of our isolated orbit
Assured nothing would ever be
Out of place

They fed us Animal Farm,
Rice crispy treats,
All the loneliness the "special"
Amongst us deserve as they learned
To make more and more elaborate
Dunce caps out of papier mache

You designed something I can't
Even pronounce, died last week

Maybe you've gone back to Antarctica

I hear they need an Ambassador

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