Oh, I’m sorry. Was it not clear enough? Did you not hear enough to know what to do? Where does the blame fall; is it on me or you?

’Cause I’m standing up here at the front of the class, busting my arse to get you to pass but, then, you don’t do the work.
And you might think I’m a jerk because I shout once in a while and I refuse to smile on the day an assignment’s due. Well, that’s bloody hard to do when I’m disappointed in what I get back because you’re too slack to do it. You say ‘screw it’.

But I’ve sat too many hours working at home; telling my wife and kid to leave me alone because I’m thinking of you and what you want to be.
Well, what about me? Can’t you see things from my point of view?
This is not what I wanted to do.
I wanted to sculpt minds like an artist does with clay.
I chose this career to make a difference every day,
not to baby-sit some little shit who’d rather spit on me than listen to what I say.

Yet, I wake every morn just after dawn;
shower and dress for school,
because I’m desperate to find that jewel
that’s inside each kid,
that pearl of wisdom that’s hid deep down inside —
trying to hide from the taunts of peers.
Because, it’s all between our ears,
these fears that hurt our chest,
as we hide the best of us from the rest of us,
and as each day goes by,
all I can do is try,
because I know,
that when these kids grow,
they’ll look back and say,
‘He made a difference that day’.

Ron Barton (Western Australia)

From Ron's book If God is a Poet (Ginninderra Press 2012)

Editor's note: ‘chalkie’ is a slang term for a schoolteacher.

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