Saturday, April 20, 2013

Congratulations Rosemary Catacalos, 2013 Texas Poet Laureate

David Talamantez on the Last 
Day of Second Grade

David Talamantez, whose mother is at work, leaves his mark
     everywhere in the schoolyard,
tosses pages from a thick sheaf of lined paper high in the air one
     by one, watches them
catch on the teachers' car bumpers, drift into the chalky narrow
     shade of the water fountain.
One last batch, stapled together, he rolls tight into a makeshift
     horn through which he shouts
David! and David, yes! before hurling it away hard and darting
     across Barzos Street against
the light, the little sag of head and shoulders when, safe on the
     other side, he kicks a can

 in the gutter and wanders toward home. David Talamantez
     believes birds are warm blooded,
the way they are quick in the air and give out long strings of
     complicated music, different
all the time, not like cats and dogs. For this he was marked down
     in Science, and for putting
his name in the wrong place, on the right with the date instead
     of on the left with Science
Questions, and for not skipping a line between his heading and
     answers. The X's for wrong
things are big, much bigger than Talamantez's tiny writing.
     Write larger, his teacher says

in red ink across the tops of many pages. Messy! she says on
     others where he has erased
and started over, erased and started over. Spelling, Language
     Expression, Sentences Using
the Following Words. Neck. I have a neck name. No! 20’s, 30's.
Think again! He's good
in Art, though, makes 70 on Reading Station Artist's Corner,
     where he's traced and colored

an illustration from Henny Penny. A goose with red-and-white
     striped shirt, a hen in a turquoise
dress. Points off for the birds, cloud and butterfly he's drawn in
     freehand. Not in the original

 picture! Twenty-five points off for writing nothing in the blank
     after This is my favorite scene
in the book because . . . There's a page called Rules. Listen!
     Always working! Stay in your seat!
Raise your hand before you speak! No fighting! Be quiet! Rules
     copied from the board, no grade,
only a huge red checkmark. Later there is a test on Rules. Listen!
     Alay ercng! Sast in ao snet!

 Rars aone bfo your spek! No finagn! Be cayt! He gets 70 on
     Rules, 10 on Spelling. An old man
stoops to pick up a crumpled drawing of a large family crowded
     around a table, an apartment

with bars on the windows in Alazan Courts, a huge sun in one
     corner saying, Tomush noys!
After correcting the spelling, the grade is 90. Nice details! And
     there's another mark, on this paper

and all the others, the one in the doorway of La Rosa Beauty
     Shop, the one that blew under
the pool table at La Tenampa, the ones older kids have wadded
     up like big spitballs, the ones run
over by cars. On every single page David Talamantez has crossed  
     out the teacher's red numbers
and written in giant letters, blue ink, Yes! David, yes!

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