Poetry Friday: Follow Through

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit this weeks roundup!

Follow Through

In basic training the drill sergeants were obsessed with follow through.

Barked commands expected immediate execution.

Even when the order was confusing. Strange.

Like when we were told to look for the soft spot of the tank.

For drill sergeants

Obedience was everything.

Once a training exercise didn’t go as planned

Our platoon guide fresh out of high school like most of us

Caved under pressure easily.

He flailed but barked orders.

Exchanged looks of doubt.

After the training exercise the drill sergeant sat us

down and we reviewed.

Instilled after action/operation:


“Even if you don’t agree at the time, unless you or your team are in mortal danger you execute.”

The time to object, suggest, speak out, fight against, point out an alternative is after the action.

When you are in it you finish.

Even if it’s a train wreck.

I see wisdom in this especially in combat.

But last year school year I said “we need to reckon.”

We would need to sit down and review just what we had done to students

What we had expected of them.

And now this school year is over: I haven’t spoken up.

I’ve towed the line.

I’ve executed followed orders.

Next time.

Next time I will not bow my head for simplicity, ease, and comfort.

I will speak up. I will advocate.

We can do this differently.

We’ve known the short comings of standardized testing.

We’ve known the short comings of the way we grade.

We know that restorative justice needs to be robust and prominent.

With this I will follow through.

7 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Follow Through

  1. Wow, Jonathan! This is so powerful. I love the image of following orders when you were in basic. “When “you are in it you finish.
    Even if it’s a train wreck.”
    Yes, I can see that is important, especially in combat, as you said in your poem.

    But I also love how as a teacher you can unlearn some of that and follow through in important things of advocacy for the young people. This lines is so awesome–
    “We know that restorative justice needs to be robust and prominent.”
    Yes, let’s keep speaking for restorative justice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jonathan, I found myself drawn into your poem and invested in its message. I found myself contesting the military line of unquestioning obedience. Your poem further reminded me of the words espoused by Elie Wiesel ‘We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.’ Thank you for the provocations contained in your poem and I wish you every success in speaking out about those continuing issues surrounding education. We must speak up even if our voices shake.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the idea that teachers “may have” followed along like the military, perhaps to save what part of education they knew in lieu of any freedom to make change. A poem of irony or dissent? The past months have caused many to question what in the world is dedication without thought – your poem!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jonathan, I like how you led us to very important points in education this year: “We know that restorative justice needs to be robust and prominent.” “We need to reckon” is your mantra. ” Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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