Middle School [Final Assignment]

May 10, 2013

We have been playing the ‘Name Game’ all term. Write a final poem. I will read the best to next year’s students, so make it your valedictory. Make it magic.

Cleopatra is Crazyville

So what if the Queen of Sheba is playing the Name Game with that foxy new chick, Cleopatra?

Everybody knows Sheba is the smartest kid in middle school, so she should win, right?

Wrong. Cleopatra is Crazyville.

Sheba doesn’t know what she’s up against.

One move and Sir Basel Ganglia is vanquished.

I come to bury Caesar, not to name him.

And Neema Neema, science diva, despite the Queen’s clever use of ‘first name, last name,’ gets blown away with one word: nematodes.

And that’s just for starters.

Cleo’s using hurricane names, acronyms, Thomas Pynchon novels—Thomas Pynchon novels in middle school!—a character named Katje who quits the game, quits it cold!—

This is a knock down.

This is Frazer and Ali in furs, a thriller in chinchilla.

This is…

No, it’s over.

Cleopatra is the winner!

Sheba is up against the ropes.

Cleo, hands held high: Is that the fame that launched a thousand clips?

Thrill, drill, spill. What a kill.

This Cleopatra is Crazyville.

Welcome to Excellence in English, new students.

You’ll learn what you will.

—Basel Protaglia. Forest Park Middle School.


To Learn to Climb a Tree

All you who are faint of heart in America,
it is time to learn to climb a tree.

We will rename ourselves in the forest.
We will find peace there. We will learn to sing.

The name game will become one with nature.
It will be our nature. Self and non-self will become

a part of the empty sky. As heaven ends.
As our fairy tale ends. Take your pick.

We can no longer live alone, for our name
is the same. Say yours now. Mine is Neema.

—Neema Mullin. Forest Park Middle School.


I named him Solomon.

I named him Solomon, after the story in Bible.
It was a new story to me. One of strange hope,
an odd captivity, something which all children should see.
My American name was to be Beverly,
Mr. Madden, you knew that, didn’t you?
Thank you for letting me stay free…

Some day when I am married and I have a real child,
perhaps I will ‘make him magic’, as you do.

I will live in Africa. As a queen. For my people.
I will have a hundred children, a thousand.

It has been a wonderful year in America.
Thank you.

—Bathsheba. Forest Park Middle School.


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