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A Poem For My Algebra Teacher

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I know I promised no more ‘Make you Cry Poems’ I said I'd never write another ‘Wipe your eye poem’ And for three years I tried not to retract, but after so many tears I have to take that promise back. I write this Thesis after going through a lost photo album, trying to trace the trails and tracks of growing up young, poor and Black, taking the sad trip back. I hope you brought your tissue with you Because my childhood was one of issues. So I give you one more poem for your eyes, and if I make you sad, I apologize. Please don’t hate me. Like Miss Holiday I been in pain lately. The doctor said I got Blues Build Up and it sits the soul like constipation. When I hold it in I get a painful burning sensation- I gotta get this shi* out of me! And since emotion is a sad reminder, Perhaps Math, Science or notion will be kinder. And to who ever said that every problem has a solution and is scientifically attainable, I hope that the equation of growing up Black and poor is equally explainable. And since I have been at the Blackboard nearly thirty years, hopefully, I won't run out of chalk before I run out of tears. The answer just has to be near. Or maybe I have the X too far to the left or the Y too far to the right, maybe there’s just a slight oversight. And so if I put this Essay to rhyme, maybe I will solve it in time Or in a lifetime. And to not solve this problem would be even more terrible, So if anyone after me tries I know I’m close, all you have to do move a few variables. For those who say Black children are educationally damned, I propose the following problem for your next SAT exam: My Black mother had nine children by six Daddies in nineteen years, and sadly only two of those Daddies stayed around more than a year- And if each week my mother lost a River of tears, what was the rate of my Mother's tears per year? For extra credit what was the total weight of her fears? You can round off to the nearest tenth. I didn’t have the strength. And if the ratio of alcohol to tears was three to one, How much whiskey did my Mother need before her life was done? If Black Mother Hubbard had no food in her cupboard, how could she keep a man much less a lover? Trying to ward off her own internal doubts, That of the eight babies only one or two would make it out. These are averages to theorize about. What do you do when the down side of your life has no reciprocal? We can search for an answer but it will prove to be difficult But she kept those blues Bottled up inside and at the age of forty-eight she died. Diagnosis suicide? When counting sorrows Do you add, multiply or divide? And your Stepfather who was opening presents on December 25th and was opening up your sister on December 24th- How do you know if an angle is acute or obtuse when one of the sides are loose, or when its base is fooling around with the hypotenuse? And though your step father wasn’t shi*, he was the best a mother with eight children could get. And learning the "Tickle Game" From your Step Father is cool I suppose, until he says, "Good, now lets play without clothes." And when the Numerator says, "Tell Mommy later!" you just know that the big bad denominator will get you…Soon or later. I guess you can call these Improper Actions. Or watching pornographic movies with him at the age of eight, when the Wonderful World of Disney or chasing a frisbee would have been just as great. And Can I ever know if it affected my fate? And if I could put her sorrows on a graph, the negative coordinates would just laugh, Realizing twenty years later That all those stolen Christmases had nothing to do with the Grinch, just your Step Father feeling a heroin pinch. How do you measure a child's heart break by square inch? Your Mother cleaning floors until Easter just to reduce the friction. Sometimes when you add up life You have to use long addition. And just maybe Pythagoras or Euclid can help me with the following: If being Black plus being poor equals being miserable squared Then what is the sum of Black Poverty squared? Einstein are you there? Some factors just refuse to be equal. Some theories just don’t need a sequel. And if I could get a scale and weigh all the pain and sorrow on one balance, more than 15 funerals, Ten molestations a dozen drug addictions, all the loved ones who have lost their "Gawd-damned minds." Would I call life cruel or kind? And your ten year old ears and ten year old eyes, hearing and seeing your mother telling the paramedic, "Leave me alone and let me die." The Circumference of Black life taste nothing like Pi. And should I best describe my Blues as a segment which has a beginning and an end or a Ray which has only a beginning… Or a line to go on and on- never ending? And when your last remaining picture of you and your mother has a junkie/ child molester in it somewhere- if I took scissors and cut him out, could I forget that he was ever there? I cried out for the divisor and the square root was scared. Superman, Batman and no other Super hero in a two-thousand mile radius cared. Still for some reason I was spared. And so I put these away these photographs, and I’m done with all this Math. The quotients are now quiet, the angles are napping with the squares, and I’m sure probability is here somewhere. I just don’t know where. Yesterday I looked at a picture of my mother on a wall and stared- Finally she is free from all those cares. What did all of her efforts gain her? And I look at myself. Perhaps I am her remainder. These are the Mathematics I love to hear. Excuse me while I wipe a tear. Well this is my Thesis for Mathematics 201. Until next time I'm done.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2021

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Date: 9/29/2022 5:38:00 PM
Back reading my fav'd poems. This leaves me emotionally worn. The pain you express is unfathomable to me, I don't know how you made it through it. Your intellect is unquestionable, and your ability to move the reader with your words is exceptional.
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Date: 11/1/2021 8:19:00 AM
I loved this Michael. RDRR. !!! - Ken
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Date: 8/8/2021 2:13:00 PM
Michael, This poem is amazing and moving. You are a poet with a strong mind and soul. Wishing you success in all that you do.
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Date: 6/10/2021 4:44:00 PM
Incredible write, Michael. Powerful and filled with emotion, well thought out and great phrasing and words.
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Date: 5/1/2021 8:08:00 AM
As about as powerful as it about "laying it all bare". Whew!!! But the fact remains -- that you have come through!! You are full-grown and complete: "that which does not kill us...just makes us stronger". There is great fortitude and inner strength to your writing...let it always remain so. As for ghetto's? They are, and will always remain, places of great hurt and decrepitude...but the best will always find a way to you obviously have, Michael. Keep on writing! :) john
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Date: 4/25/2021 8:19:00 AM
Creative lines that you have penned. I can't imagine the life of a person white, black, Asian, Mexican, or any race, creed or color living in a big city in poverty at any time. I know it must be hard. Sara
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Date: 4/6/2021 9:45:00 AM
WOW!!! This is an "Amazing" write. I love how you worked it through math. You need to take this and make a book out of it. I am so sorry for your pain. Many lives look good on the outside but are hell on the inside. I hope you will find love and peace. Have a blessed day as you write away.......................
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Date: 4/5/2021 6:27:00 AM
The sad content of this expressive poem fails not to pull at the reader's heart strings, Michael. I never imagined Mathematics to be so emotional! Is it a wonder that forgetting and forgiving are so hard to deal with!!? Yes, even in old age I tend to get misty eyed....Take care // paul
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Date: 4/4/2021 5:44:00 AM
I feel you, and I wipe a tear with you, brotha. I've read thousands of poems ever since I've been on this site and I've never read a poem as poignant and powerful as this one, seriously. It brought tears to my eyes, Michael! Why this didn't win POTD is beyond me. It's a masterpiece and a half! I had to FAV it mid-read which I almost never do. Thank you for pouring out every part of your soul. Keep your head up, Black...
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Date: 4/3/2021 10:59:00 AM
Michael, your well expressed, moving poem has touched my heart. It took real strength for you to overcome such a heartbreakingly difficult childhood, and your being such an amazingly talented poet, is a great triumph. Though I wasn't abused, as a child I did suffer from being black and impoverished. I pray for you, Michael, and your poem is a fave. Blessings, Evelyn
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Evelyn Judy Buehler
Date: 4/3/2021 4:44:00 PM
What a nice coincidence that your mother's and my name are the same! My daughter is also Evelyn. Our middle name Judy, comes from an aunt. The wonderful work of Maya, Langston and Gwen will definitely go on. You are so right about shining diamonds in our mines (that's so poetic, by the way). I have encountered so much brilliant talent while interacting with the the several poetry sites which I belong to-I am in awe! Your story of triumph over adversity, and your attitude, is a real inspiration. Have a blessed Easter.
Ellis Avatar
Michael Ellis
Date: 4/3/2021 1:24:00 PM
"Dear Sweet irony replied: It just so happens my mother's name is EVELYN. Thank you so much for liking my writing. Black written poetry is in such a dire state after Maya & Langston & Gwen dominated Literature for fifty years but our stories go on. We have so many more shining diamonds in our mines. You are valued and appreciated Miss Evelyn. My poem is only proof that healing is very real & forgiveness & Rising
Date: 4/2/2021 8:12:00 AM
Dear Michael, Your poem made me cry, still I want to read it many more times. I have to find words to express the sadness I am feeling right now. But, as a mother myself, can tell you that she was strong and her son definitely has inherited that strength. Each and every line of this poem is poignant, but the stanza below touched my heart, and remarkable to me.I have to write another comment. Love ~ Mala
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Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 4/2/2021 8:13:00 AM
Adding another comment. I can not forget this stanza : "Yesterday I looked at a picture of my mother on a wall and stared- Finally she is free from all those cares. What did all of her efforts gain her? And I look at myself. Perhaps I am her remainder." You are an outstanding poet, Michael. I will be following you. Love ~ Mala
Date: 4/1/2021 9:33:00 PM
You've written a remarkable, sensitive, yet strong poem Michael. Such a shame that you were ever in a place to have the experiences to write it.
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Date: 4/1/2021 9:00:00 PM
I have no words to describe how I feel after reading your write. I'm sorry for all the pain you've had to endure, and I applaud you for finding the strength to let it see the light of day. All who deny the concept of white privilege should read this... and weep. Blessings to you.
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Date: 3/30/2021 9:19:00 PM
Michael, Fine write right to the end. No proofs needed in your inferential arguments. Life's supposed to be the best teacher, not just a substitute. Was it Aristotle that said the sum of parts are never greater than the whole? What did he know of a life so incongruent, yet you survived. Put a brick wall in front and trowled in another behind, nothing but a ruler and pencil to figure out the pain. Yet through all that was cracked and battered, your words still shined. -Richard
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Date: 3/28/2021 9:19:00 PM
So much pain and skulduggery, on the planet today, Michael. Your poem sure brings home the battle you have faced, yet have the strength to tell it as it is. This may seem strange Michael, and i apologise if taken out of my meaning..But the poem so strong needed to be written, not only to help the poet but to go on and help so many more.
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Richard Lamoureux
Date: 3/28/2021 9:58:00 PM
I agree with your mindset comment. Each of us doesn’t know what we don’t know. When we hear the term prejudice we recoil and attempt to defend the indefensible, instead If we simply say “I didn’t know that, thanks for helping me understand.” I think our world would be taking a step in the right direction. Poetry like Michael’s hurts to read and it shows me we have a lot in common and even more we need to learn.
Date: 3/28/2021 8:22:00 PM
I’m sorry to hear you cannot cry. I think crying can release a lifetime of pain. When I finished writing my book I went through a period of depression. One of the things that helped me was to be able to cry for that hurting little boy that lives inside of me.
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Date: 3/28/2021 2:45:00 PM
I applaud you for writing this Michael, it took real guts to do so. Im sorry that you don't have happy memories of growing up and sadly those memories stay with you. They say poets write from their souls and you certainly have. Tom
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Date: 3/28/2021 2:06:00 PM
I am sorry for all the nightmares you have had to face. I thought my mom's life was hard, but yours and your mother's life were much worse. Richard has written a wonderful poem inspired by your poem here, Michael. Like I did to Richard, I want to fave this poem. I think it is excellent the way you used mathematics as symbols for your pain. Excellent indeed!
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Date: 3/28/2021 2:02:00 PM
Hi Michael, I came hear after reading Richard’s response to this well written heartfelt write. It moved me to tears. Your story touched me deeply. I saw some similarities with my own life. Your pen is exceptional and I hope many read you to day.I look forward to reading your poem more. Excellent job.Have a great day-Alexis
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Date: 3/28/2021 8:08:00 AM
This left me weak in the knees. I grew up in an abusive home but my experiences pale by comparison. I was moved to write a poem in response which I will post momentarily. I want people to read your words. They are raw and potent and demand to be heard. I think you may be one of the best I have read on the soup.
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Michael Ellis
Date: 3/28/2021 6:01:00 PM
This is the one poem I wish was fiction. I read once every three years hoping to find an embellishment and I never do. If I knew how to cry reading this poem would take me there. So I put all that pain in a bottle. Thank you Richard for being the one to release the genie. Maybe its easier than before. I am so honored by you writing a poem in reply. This is the true beauty of SOUP...Your courage will bring so many poets together. I am humbled and honored again. Now off to read your poetry..

Book: Shattered Sighs