Teacher's Dilemma


Teacher’s Dilemma


Deep in the right pocket of his pseudo fatigues lay twelve inches of kitchen blade brought from home, sharpened protection against schoolyard bullies hurling ugly epithets, challenging him day after day: pussy, fag, yellow queer, stabbing insults for all to hear. Gaining momentum, anger overcame shame and fear, leading to what he assumed to be armed conflict. He made an error when he showed it to his best friend who then told me about it when she entered my classroom.


Motioning for the boy to come out from the next-door class, I queried him and he confessed the details to me in tones of anguish mixed with the snot and tears of frustration. I could only march him to the office, quiet and subdued, writing out our statements and tagging the evidence; binding him over for expulsion by a policy of no excuses.


He would not name names, although others would, but there was no place for extenuating circumstances or mitigating factors when administering school justice. Even my appearance at his hearing, reflecting how cooperative and forthright he was, corroborating the primal cause, fell on the ears of official unforgiveness.


Kicked out of school for the rest of the year, with nothing to do from April to August, running the streets with no friends or support; no wonder he never came back. I do not believe a Magisterial Being expects Zero Defects or adheres to a Policy of No Tolerance, from me or any of the universe’s far-flung children.


Rick Hartwell

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school teacher (remember the hormonally-challenged?) who just moved to northern Illinois with his wife of fifty years, Sally Ann (upon whom he is emotionally, physically, and spiritually dependent), one grown daughter, and ten cats! Like Blake, Thoreau and Merton, he believes that the instant contains eternity.

He has been published in: Active Muse, Ariel Chart International Literary Journal, Black Poppy Review, The Piker Press, Birmingham Arts Journal, Phenomenal Literature, VerbalArt, Tipton Poetry Journal, Bindweed Magazine, The Cortland Review, Dual Coast Magazine, The Clayjar Review, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Every Day Fiction, Foreshadow Magazine, Gaia Lit, Our Day’s Encounter, Agape Review, Blue Lake Review, EgoPHobia, The Galway Review, Fine Lines, Juste Literary,  The Curie Review, Surely As The Sun, 7th Circle Pyrite, Compass Rose Literary Journal, Antler Velvet Arts Magazine, Scarlet Leaf Review (nominated Best of the Net, 2016), Poppy Road Review (selected as Best of the Net, 2011), Torrid Literature Journal (inducted into the Hall of Fame, 2013), Synchronized Chaos (nominated as Best of the Net, 2013), The Stray Branch, Steam Ticket, Leaves of Ink, Poetry Magazine (Editor’s Circle choices 2011), One Title Magazine (received The Jeffster Award from Deconstructing Myths, 2015), Autumn Moon Haiku, and others, both print and online, as well as several anthologies,.

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