Alana K

Fifth Grade: October 22,1985 - Poem by Alana K

in fifth grade
my teacher said
i talked too much

she used shears
and a metal spool
of extra-wide adhesive tape
to shut my mouth
zzzzip, snip...
zzzzip, snip...
zzzzip, snip...
zzzzip, snip...
zzzzip, snip...
zzzzzzip, snip...
zzzzip, snip...
in a crazy quilt of adhesive silence

that morning, other kids
and asked me questions
as i sat there mute
dumb, an unanswering mummy

that noon, mouthless
i couldn't eat lunch
i was a girl with no mouth
no mouth, no talking
no mouth, no lunch

that afternoon, another teacher
came to our room
to borrow some chalk
she saw my face
she stared and stared at me
but not a word to my teacher
about me or my condition

after school, in detention
the tape burned
as it finally came off

in the girls bathroom mirror
i stared at my own face
a network of red tape mark lines
my skin a map of martian canals
and grey adhesive stickum bits
that wouldn't come off
no matter how i scrubbed

at home, my mother noticed
the rubbery grey bits on my face
(the red had faded)
and i had to explain
how my teacher silenced me
with adhesive tape
but my mom interrupted:
'well, you probably had it coming! '

in my room, i cried and cried
silenced twice
in a single day

Topic(s) of this poem: life, memory, sad, school, silence

Poet's Notes about The Poem

Autobiographical. I will never forget that day, the first of many that year. It was a battle of the wills between me and my teacher; and so, as the year progressed, I more and more often spent the school day with my mouth adhesive taped shut. I will never forget fifth grade, and moreover I still have my old diary...

Courtesy of my diary, here are the dates (1985-86) she taped my mouth shut: Oct 22, Nov 13, Nov 21, Dec 11, Jan 7, Jan 16, Jan 30-31, Feb 11, Feb 14, Feb 24, Mar 3, Mar 10, Mar 13, Mar 19-21, Apr 1, Apr 4, Apr 7-11, Apr 16, Apr 21, Apr 24-25, Apr 29, May 2, May 7-Jun 10.

That's a total of 54 days in fifth grade that I spent the entire school day with my mouth taped shut. Including all day every day for the last five weeks of the school year, May 7 through June 10. Guinness record, do you suppose?

Comments about Fifth Grade: October 22,1985 by Alana K

  • (4/3/2018 4:34:00 AM)

    Your teacher kept you taped up the last 5 weeks of the year? ? ? Oh how awful! ! (Report) Reply

    (4/22/2018 3:14:00 PM)

    Yes Kate, things had been escalating between us for some time. Finally she resorted to the nuclear option: mouth adhesive-sealed shut for the rest of fifth grade.

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  • Jazib Kamalvi (11/1/2017 6:54:00 AM)

    A sublime start with a nice poem, Alana K. You may like to read my poem, Love And Lust. Thank you. (Report) Reply

    Alana Krueger (11/7/2017 5:35:00 AM)

    Thank you, Jazib. Sublime? Or perhaps sublimated from bitter experience...: -) I think of all those long hours and endless days in fifth grade, unable to speak, unable to get my mouth open, like a girl in a horror movie, a mute mouthless scarecrow of a girl...: -X

  • Siddartha Montik (11/26/2016 11:20:00 AM)

    Nicely written memories of childhood, though it hard to digest the feelings of young you that time in that punishment.. hard todigest! ! 10++ (Report) Reply

    Alana Krueger (11/28/2016 5:33:00 AM)

    Yes, it was hard to digest then, and it's still hard to digest today 30+ years later. Sitting there in class all day long wearing a mask of adhesive tape that physically enforced my silence...

  • Darwin Henry Beuning (3/12/2016 8:16:00 AM)

    A hard lesson, life is far from fair. Alana, I'm sure during your existence you have learned many more. I am looking forward to more of your poetry. (Report) Reply

    Alana Krueger (3/14/2016 8:05:00 AM)

    Darwin, it was indeed a hard lesson. I remember sometimes, sitting there in class with my mouth sealed shut for long hours, I felt like SCREAMING! But I knew I'd be unable to get any words out no matter how I tried. I could only make meaningless animal noises, at best ignored, at worst driving my teacher to tack another day onto my sentence. So I kept silent, with all that SCREAMING bottled up inside of me.

  • Anil Kumar Panda (2/27/2016 5:39:00 AM)

    It is really good poem that brings out memory of the childhood. Keep inking Alana. (Report) Reply

    Alana Krueger (3/4/2016 3:48:00 AM)

    Thank you. Yes, and to think that by this point in the year - early March - I had already had my mouth taped shut all day long in school a dozen times, and yet things were only beginning to really escalate...

  • Chinedu Dike (12/24/2015 3:23:00 PM)

    A well articulated narrative piece of poetry, a melancholic train of thought, insightfully penned with conviction. I guess you had it coming too. A lovely poem indeed. Thanks for sharing Alana. Please read my poem MANDELA - THE IMMORTAL ICON. (Report) Reply

    Alana Krueger (12/25/2015 7:34:00 AM)

    Well, my mother certainly thought I had it coming. She continued all through that school year to back up my teacher's method of enforcing my silence in the classroom.

  • Dr.tony Brahmin (12/11/2015 6:51:00 AM)

    Very very sad experiences in your school. the teachers and their relationships with the students. it was horrible.
    i feel with you. it is good that you are able to write about it now. it will have catharsis effect. write more about your personal experiences and it will free you more and more and make you a healthy and happy person. then learn to forgive. it is my experience.. learning to forgive everything that is and was bad in our lives will help us to grow.
    i liked this autobiographical poem. write and write. thank you very much. tony
    (Report) Reply

    Alana Krueger (12/11/2015 7:00:00 AM)

    Thank you. It wasn't easy for me to write this piece, but it was cathartic.

  • Kelly Kurt (12/10/2015 1:17:00 PM)

    Had it coming is not an excuse for poor behavior. No child should be treated like that (Report) Reply

    Alana Krueger (12/11/2015 6:48:00 AM)

    Yes, fortunately things have changed. I've seen news stories about teachers getting fired for doing this nowadays.

Read all 18 comments »

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, December 10, 2015

Poem Edited: Friday, December 11, 2015

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