FIELD TRIPS ON MY MIND
Struggling my way through the absolute wilderness
of prohibitions, the vast, vertiginous valley of rules,
the desiccated desert of dates, struggling to comprehend just when
field trips are allowed,
giving up with one colossal "Wha?",
and chose instead to flash back to New York,
benighted city of my birth,
where we ended the summer.
Come with me down West 23rd St.,
passing by the Chelsea Hotel
where Thomas Wolfe asked us to look homeward,
angel, and where I swore I saw Brendan
Behan, long dead, still sitting in the lobby,
walk with me through the street fair on 8th Avenue,
where you'll see faces and sexes of every color,
and watch me watch my younger son watch
a most glamorous transvestite with
the most outrageous magenta bouffant you have ever watched,
while we headed down to the Village and to SoHo,
where art hung from every fence as if that's what
fences were for, where my brother brought
my basketball-minded boy into conversation with "Steve,"
a street artist for 15 years ("Don't even ask about the sacrifices my family has made"), Nike Warrior meets Visionary,
and we wandered down MacDougal St, where the 60's began, past
the folk and jazz clubs, past Cafe Reggio (still there), haunts of
Kerouac, Ginsberg, Dylan, Baez,
and south we flowed down Whitman's Mannahatta, arriving
at last at sacred shrine for my people, the Yonah Shimmel
Knish Bakery, absolutely unchanged, where we
were forced to order two potato knishes
from the same grimy counter, even though
it gave us pleasure,
finding in the Lower East Side the very same streets,
the very same immigrants, the very same peddlers,
so to speak, that my grandparents found.
The night before,
after seven-hours driving from Virginia Beach,
oh distant world, we came upon New York
through the Holland Tunnel, a giant hot fist, finding salvation
at the "Wok Express" at 24th St and 7th Avenue,
where we devoured the greasiest Chinese food,
with no shame, only hunger, and saw a homeless
man rise, with more boxes than he could possibly carry,
moving one, then another, outside, wondering
how this citizen could possibly manage,
and where was he going, and realizing finally
that one block of New York had served up more
reality than I had ever evoked in a classroom,
that is, life as most live it. What a mural!
In Department meeting,
warnings of impending crackdown,
storms a-coming! Educational rationales!
Nothing for just fun! Perhaps no fun whatsoever!
How guilty I felt, stricken, for
all those damaged forever, at my hands,
through occasional trip adventure or fun,
through lessons lost, when they could have
been here getting their "990."
Things are getting serious at Lincoln-Sudbury.
We are getting serious.
There is school to be done.
All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
Contact Bill Schechter