Ferocious Jabari

Ferocious Jabari *
By Dorothy Hagan

While explaining to 7th graders the
Ways to combat the haters, the ignorant
And race baiters, I said plan to ignore
And then I implored them to guard their souls as
They invent and present without question their best

So I keep preaching saying you
All keep reaching for you can,
Embrace that geek and
As you continue to seek in
success of the nerds as you slay with the
Words of the Poet inside, who wins in the end.

So my kids, be free to peel off that mask
Grab a whole new forecast, push the past aside,
Celebrate the skins you are in as you freshen
Your lessons with academic questions, your
Futures are told so tell your mouth
Your dreams won’t bleed on the road, forthwith

So my loves, be fearless, ferocious
On occasion be precocious with your lines,
Your teachers got you and will be there to watch you in spite of
Some folks and positions with strong, potent
Dispositions…but just let them…for you are the poet with the pointed poetry.

Dorothy Hagan
December 8, 2019

*I recently had the pleasure to teach the Nikki Grimes poem, Jabari Unmasked. This poem is written using the Golden Shovel form, a fairly new form using words from another poet’s poem to inspire your new one. I searched through my most beloved poets, finding naught, and then lines in Jabari Unmasked reached out and grabbed me, begging me to join in her quest. The bolded end-words come from the last stanza of Jabari Unmasked.

Ms. Grimes, thank you for your words and inspiration, and may my words be a fraction as useful as your own.


The Secret of Life (And I’m Going to Tell It)

To say I learned a lot during my first year of public school teaching (at the tender age of 53), would be a striking understatement. Lessons learned were critical, intense and full-bodied. Some days I felt like I had done everything just short of cartwheels out the door to get my students to listen to me… about what things are important and lasting, and those that are useless (and often dangerous) diversions.

I learned a lot of lessons. But the one that is by far the most important, the most far-reaching, the unquestionably most effective, truth beyond truth, is this: Never quit caring. EVER. Never quit caring about your kids, never quit caring about your teachers, never quit caring about your relationships, never quit caring about your subjects…NEVER QUIT CARING.  Ceasing to care, ceasing to, as I say to my kids “give a rat’s pair of whiskers” is the one and only real way to fail.

Some days my students and I fought tooth and nail. We loved and hated each other, often feeling stuck, like families, in a forced symbiosis. But what we found was life-altering. If we hung in there, both myself and my students, if we hung in there and kept caring…about what it was we wanted and needed…that skin in the game led to success every time. Maybe not a 4.0 or a Teacher of the Year (or even Of the Minute), but success was ours as long as we cared to keep searching for it.

Kids know when you care. And teachers know when you care. And friends and family know when you care. Never quit caring about who and what is important to you. And that is, most assuredly, the Secret of Life.