A Teaching Slam Poem

There are plenty of well-shared performance pieces about teaching. Compared to Taylor Mali or someone like that, I have little business try to capture teaching in poetry. Should probably just stick to mailmen and graham crackers (that one's coming soon, hold on.) But, here is one anyway.

The Things That I Do That Are Weird

The bell rang loud for fifth period
and as the kids ran for their seats
to avoid the almighty tardy
I heard a little squeak
like someone sat on a mouse
or startled a doggie chew toy
and I said, Was that a sneeze?

And this girl in the back
with her hand over nose
her face got all red
and she said, yeah,
that’s how I sneeze
it’s one of the things that I do that are weird

Oh no.  The things that we do that are weird?
We’re not keeping score are we?

The things that I do that are weird
Because one time I was hungry for salty and sweet
with severely limited resources so I ended up
eating ketchup on a granola bar

The things that I do that are weird
Sometimes at the store I hold bottle of conditioner
up to my ear to hear what Target sounds like through White Rain
If bars served Kool-Aid I’d probably never drink beer again
Those are the things that I do that are weird.
The thing that I do that’s the weirdest is that I’m standing at the front of the room as a role model for all these kids.

Third period rolled around a couple of days later
all the sophomores were small group working on some sort of paper
and in between questions about points and semi-colons
I walked over the pencil sharpener on the wall
and started flicking the handle so it spun around

and a girl said,
Mr. Rasmussen, what are you doing?
You can’t ever accuse us of having ADD again,
and I said something dumb like, I just like spinny things
and she said
You’re weird

And I thought, you don’t know half of the things that I do that are weird
I have a blankie
and when I was seven and my dad wanted me to get rid of it and he jokingly asked if I was going to take it to bed with my wife someday
and now I know the answer is yes.
The things that I do that are weird
I own all the seasons of Saved by the Bell on DVD because I asked for them as presents from friends.
The things that I do that are weird

That rubbery glue they use to stick cards and stuff in magazines?  I play with that shit for hours.
The things that I do that are weird are not half as weird as the guy trusted me with a 106 fifteen year olds.
That’s weird.

And now every time I eat Miracle Whip out of the jar with my finger
and every time I get really emotional singing the theme from the Golden Girls
and every time I talk to myself in an Indian accent about which socks I’m going to wear or what I all have to do before I go the bathroom or how good I think I look standing in front of the mirror
all I can think of is that girl who sits off to the side in first hour saying
Those things that you do?  They’re weird?

Like teaching?  The things that I do that are weird make that thing that I do weird.
Eric RasmussenPoetry, Teaching