Odes against high school dating

When I was a junior in high school, Mr. Lesniewski, my American history teacher, reportedly brought in a cake for one of his seniors. The cake was to celebrate that she had broken up with her boyfriend of multiple years. At the time, I never quite agreed with his constant mocking of our high school relationships; now, 12 years later, including five as a teacher and six of a happy marriage, I wish I had the guts to perform such a stunt.

And so, in honor of the late Mr. Lesniewski (whose name I never learned to spell correctly), today I wrote a break up poem for one of my students, who said she was planning on breaking up with her not so bright boyfriend. We wrote it on the whiteboard, and she titled it:

Your Mistake

Four rings and like cattle we stampede
down a chute,
treading an ancient green carpet.

Today I see the herd afresh,
Scan it differently;
Today that bull with the ring in his nostril
looks kinder, more handsome,
for not butting me into the rail;

And you,
you are standing in line for the
packing plant
and this poem is your tag,
marking you for destruction.

After completing this poem, I read it outloud and was informed that, while nice, the recipient wouldn’t “get it.” The purpose of poetry is to communicate, and so if my poem would not effectively give the proper message, I had to try again. Thus, this second version, which I titled:

Abridged Version

This moo is a metaphor
in your language.
It means, “Please don’t call me
and we’re through.”

Thanks for the inspiration, Mr. Lesniewski.