For the Soldiers of PS7

My children attend a charter school called “PS7”. This school is located in the heart of Sacramento’s “the hood”, and I love this place. You see inner city kids of color here, as serious about school as any college student. Many of these kids have parents who did not go to college, some have parents who don’t speak English. But they all work hard, and the teachers are a team… pushing our children to excel and make it. After homeschooling my children, PS7 has (somewhat) restored my faith in our education system. There is still much to improve, but I think PS7’s founder (and our Mayor, Mayor Kevin Johnson) has done an excellent job.

In 2009, I was asked to pen a poem for a Teacher’s Appreciation Banquet. This piece is dedicated to our soldiers.


they dwell in the heart of hostile territory

the bullet-riddled ground

and bloodstained streets readies itself in silence

for heroes

as the morning son rises

dry eyes greet its rays

mouth still wet

from last night’s fantasies:

rainbow-colored landscapes

candyland adventures

ice cream houses

gingerbread men

as play-all-day alternate dimensions fade

to return our babies to this life,

an army of stone soldiers who fight for a living


gear up for another day in the trenches

these men and women

armed to the teeth with smiles and encouragement

wielding iron hands of discipline–

ironically wrapped in velvet, chalk-dusted gloves

heroes in uniform

sworn to protect our futures

in whom we trust our precious pearls–

those giggly, chatty pools of our DNA

answering God’s bugle-blow

to the committed and courageous

(this is a calling, not a career)

bringing hope to their short lives

so we can run the race of rats

marching to the tune of bravery

enduring daily battles:

star-testing wars

and ill-aimed blame-bullets blast

long hours

rare recognition

and low pay

they are the commando parents of the day

launching reading campaigns

and mathematical missions

basic training so our kids won’t have time for


those who sometimes know our children better than we do

multitasking like microsoft windows

promotional gradings

trading classroom supplies

fitness exams

saturday deployments

home visits


no one rides the benches cause

it’s hot in them trenches

no time for an MBA or law school,

it’s intercession, baby!

reloading magazines and DVDs

navigating worldwide webs for future excursions

bullet-proof jackets case of glances and

verbal POW attacks

cause these troops are

combative non-combatants

war heroes

whose songs don’t get sung for ages

names and dates and recognition

forgotten through the stages

though their lessons echo for generations

as each platoon goes and comes

each battle won under the Sun

our memories and paths are littered

with minimal casualties

the mission always gets accomplished in this unit:

you cultivate mind fields

in the battleground of ignorance

we respect you

for you decorate our hearts and our lives

with knowledge we always seem to forget

that you gave our children

these are the brave men and women

of the read, the write till you’re blue

this fortress is heavily guarded

by the true war heroes

in the trenches

of PS7.



“For the Soldiers of PS7”



Filed under Poetry

4 responses to “For the Soldiers of PS7

  1. Beautiful Poem! I love the idea of appreciating good teachers. They will be the secret to changing education. Keep the good ones around and help the bad ones to improve. If we invest in these teachers and their methods EFFECTIVELY, then we will reap the benefits for years to come in all facets of life!

  2. LaVerne

    Thanks frat. Too often the hard work of of teachers is is overlooked or dismissed.

    • thanks soror! teachers are way more valuable–and far more influential–than most of us realize. Every adult has something we say, do or know–that came from a teacher when we were kids… and we just don’t remember where we got it from!

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