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End of The Year Junior High Classroom Address by The Teacher’s Assistant

"so, just relax, and when asked, tell the truth"

Published onFeb 01, 2023
End of The Year Junior High Classroom Address by The Teacher’s Assistant

Photo by Callum Skelton:

Much easier to just be honest, tell the truth and why not;
the worst that can happen is someone gets mad—
Really, what then?
They get mad, so what!
In the history of this country,
in particular, and the world more generally
compared to the number of times someone has gotten upset
emotional, angry, etc.
the number of instances another person has gotten seriously
(or not so seriously for that matter ) injured
much less killed
as a direct result of said party
becoming completely unhinged, emotional—
irate to the point that self-indulgent histrionics veer off into real violence
visited on another person
is infinitesimal, moreover consider:
The vast majority of times
a person or people have suffered death or grave injury
as a result of someone else’s anger, outrage, disappointment
whatever, the reason wasn’t personal
rather abstract, universal, principled in its way—
Think improvised explosive devices
left in the middle of empty ghost-like streets
or at the side of a dusty, lonely stretch of road,
hand grenades lobbed into crowded cafes.
The trench warfare of yore:
Men in gas masks
Crimped nozzles dangling slack from stylized snouts
Bayonets on rifle tips
as they clamber up the sides of muddy trenches and charge,
poisonous gas billowing around them.
Or take mass murderers.
Most of the time murder for them is a necessity
forced upon by circumstance
careening out of control,
imposed from without—
or maybe just some guy
plowing a delivery truck into a crowd of pedestrians
because he can’t take it anymore,
then getting out and finishing off as many of the injured as he can
with a carving knife he’s been carrying around for weeks,
not quite realizing why.
When passionate anger personified takes you
it won’t be someone you know,
or, let’s face it, for reasons you will be aware of—
even comprehend a little bit
before it’s too late,
so, just relax and when asked,
tell the truth,
not to say there won’t be some hurt feelings, broken trust, tears,
smashed crockery, holes busted here and there in drywall,
dents and pings in the polished stainless steel refrigerator door,
so it looks like someone unloaded a box of birdshot shells at it
while their spouse or whoever cowered behind—
but it was actually canned goods
squirreled away in the pantry for the long winter
hurled across the kitchen,
shattered panes in windows, torn upholstery, shredded dress shirts
in the bottom of the closet, still
the worst you imagine
if having (like me) grown up in a violent and abusive family
that left you at the tender age of eleven
gazing at your parents and siblings
1000 yards away
and arranged as series of points on a hexagon
your already abstracted imagination imposed on the oval dinner table,
Post-traumatic in primary school,
Flashbacks, migraines, fugue-states
Intrusive memories, violent fantasies—
the worst you imagine
in all the worst-case scenarios
never happens
So, the next time someone asks, my little charges,
parent, teacher, vice principal, whoever
asks did you study, do your homework, hit Takeshi, steal Amy’s eraser,
just take a deep breath and tell them
what they want to know.
This isn’t a license to tell the truth
just because it suits you however; remember
there’s a difference between being honest and telling the truth.

Mark Parsons' poems have been recently published or are forthcoming in Ex Pat Press, Dreich, Cape Rock, and I-70 Review. He lives in Tokyo, Japan.  








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