High school part 2 – The Poem

Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society

My high school- Saint Michaels Regional High School, Wagga Wagga, (now closed) used to produced a year book /magazine. Contained within was the best writing the students could produce. It would come from both school work submitted by teachers and work submitted directly to the journal by students.

It was edited by one of the English teachers, a woman who loved To Kill A Mockingbird and ensured that every student in year nine read it. She was a great teacher.

It happened to be year nine when I decided I would contribute a poem to the journal and see if they would include it. I worked on it every night for a week. I cannot remember how it went now, but  I remember it was about robots and I remember the hours of work I put into it.

I submitted but did not hear back. When the magazine came out I grabbed my copy and searched through it. My work was not included. Three of my friends were published, one wrote a poem about a racing car that went something like:

Engines roar

green light, cars race

hugging the road, tires squeal

a car explodes against a barrier

the race is urgent, deadly, defining

number six finishes first.

The crowd roars and swarms toward the hero.

A good poem from a 14 or 15 year old.

Another was about a guy who finds a million dollars or something but the third was something else. It was written by Matthew Romaro. It was of such a high quality our teacher stood at the front of class one day when Romaro was not there and said (i remember her words clearly) “He is such a talented writer, he has the brains, if only he would apply himself.”

Romaro was a poor student. He would ignore the teachers, even embarrass the less gifted teachers, he would skip class, he would scream out animal noises during class. He was a legend because he had once made a teacher cry during class. He was a clown and we loved him.

I still remember his poem and you can read it below.

The teacher saw me going through the pages during class and came up to me.

“David,” she said in a sweet voice, “I know your poem didn’t make it this year.”
I looked up at her with devastated eyes.

“It just didn’t have the quality of the others. It would have made it but there wasn’t the room. I did not expect the poem from Matthew. Did you read it?” She looked over a the empty desk where Matthew usually sat and let out a sigh. “He has such talent.”

I re-read Matthew’s poem. It was incredible, I was intimidated by his literary power. I cursed my childish poem. I spent hours looking at that poem.

Then came the whispers on the playground that Matthew did not write the poem at all, that he had stolen it from a book or that his father who was a university professor had written it for him. I did not believe these rumors completely. There was something extraordinary about Matthew, there was something otherworldly about him, that he could do anything. He could skip school, he could fail tests but when he wanted to, he could produce award winning literature.

The next week his name was read out at a school assembly, he was awarded a merit notice for his work in English class. The only one he had ever received. I was happy for him, I accepted that I was not entitled to a place in the literary books, I had to work harder to earn publication.

Here is his poem:

WHEN THE QUIET THINGS SPEAK
BY MATTHEW ROMARO 1996
When the wind blows
the quiet things speak.
Some whisper, some clang,
Some creak.

Grasses swish.
Treetops sigh.
Flags slap
and snap at the sky.
Wires on poles
whistle and hum.
Ashcans roll.
Windows drum.

When the wind goes —
suddenly
then,
the quiet things
are quiet again.

Years went by and I would return to this poem.

I am uncertain what happened to Matthew but I don’t think he ever again wrote anything of great note.

One afternoon, just before I went away to university to study among other things English literature, I went on the internet. (something not available when I was in high school) and decided to search that poem Matthew submitted, just to make sure it was his. I found this:

WIND SONG
by Lilian Moore 1967
When the wind blows
the quiet things speak.
Some whisper, some clang,
Some creak.

Grasses swish.
Treetops sigh.
Flags slap
and snap at the sky.
Wires on poles
whistle and hum.
Ashcans roll.
Windows drum.

When the wind goes —
suddenly
then,
the quiet things
are quiet again.

I laughed. He had pulled a great prank over all of us. The teachers had all been fooled. I felt a little better about myself too. My poem about robots might not have been too bad for a fourteen year old after all.

11193407_979152662125491_8006205227859932567_n

My debut novel The Bomber is out 24th of June 2015.

I simply took David Copperfield and put a new cover on it.

Advertisements

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s