the dancer

purple light, red light, strobe light, black light, she walks on stage in tight white turned neon, wipes the pole long and lean with a wash rag, turns to talk to the DJ through the beaded curtain,
slinks to the shaft and climbs it with ease in two shimmies,(in my mind she’s ten and climbing a thirty-foot flagpole)flips upside down in a graceful gush of fluttering glitter, spins and spirals with butterfly arms reaching out, slides to the floor belly down like a slithering snake, but not before clicking her nine-inch sparkly heels – clack clack -like an upside-down Dorothy wishing for home – then does a cat cow and a meow stretch before she twerks, tosses her blond ringlets ,batting eyelashes – (in their wildest dreams I doubt any of these patrons would guess her mother is in the audience on this, her farewell night) – she’s radiating ecstasy and we are riveted by her grace and pure comfort in the spotlight so bright (just yesterday I was running behind her bike without training wheels, to keep her from falling), this complex artistry of removing garments while balancing on the platforms she commands with military precision, like a towering baby giraffe, all heads must look up to her dizzying height – she’s the goddess of the underworld in the temple of the wayward lonely hearts, jonesing for a lap dance, (I remember how she got the jagged scar above her left knee) and when the bra flies off Washingtons and Lincolns flutter down from the balcony like cherry blossom petals in the spring and just like a prize geisha
she looks up and smiles demurely

(after dg okpik)

twenty-nine years teaching/my second home15dead 27shotPeace= teaching kindness= compassion= love DEATH TeRRoR teaching grace and courtesy=love/ AR15 multiplication/addition/subtraction
phonics LETTER sounds BULLETSbloodbloodblood blending sounds laughter additionTERRORgod
complex teaching conflict resolution compassion staff meetings classroom communityASSAULT
WEAPONS schoolshooter laughter new Math Title 1poverty genderbathroomsdiscussion/26dead
SWAT teamParkland=walking over dead bodies to get to the cafeteria door parent-teacher-con
ferences tying shoelaces blowing snotty noses NO ASSISTANT NObathroom breaks underpaid no
union=still loving children/no hugging policy/children giving hugsanywayLOCKDOWNDRILLS hid-
ing in closets/bathrooms/under desks/GUNFIRE don’t worry it’s just practice, kids/SCREAMS/run run runRUN runscreaming crying terror stampede/Columbine HighSchool SSTchapterbook read
alouds-teacher-social worker-janitor-counselor-parent-therapist all ROLLED INTOONE/poverty&
playground conflicts/free lunch/IEP’s/kids who are homeless/kids sleeping in shelters/sleeping in cars-UVALDE TEXAS911 911 911 “HELP US!” LGBTQ+/ divorce separation parents fired from Mac Donald’s for taking time off to stay home with sick kids “He’s inside shooting at the kids!”
snotty noses WIPING NOSES /cold/flu/croop/lice/NO NURSE except 1dayaweek/NO JANITOR/
throw-up/cleanup/Clorox wipes/COVID19=26dead whitemale teenageshooterSEMIAUTOMATIC
HELP- Cesar Chaves High School Sandy Hook Elementary School – finding coats Lost jackets Lost
mittens HopScotch Swingsets LAUGHTER running/playing/hide-and-go-seek/erasers #2pencils
Field Trips storytime potty accidents NO LIBRARIAN NO NURSES no bathroombreaksforteachers
Rainbow friendly/No Halloween CANDY/Uvalde TX/ RED SMEARS DOWN THE HALLWAY body dragged/SHOOTER kills himself when corneredBLOOD/run runRUNRUNRUN RUN!chaos
art lessons music lessons P.E. dance, theatre/teaching/to teach/teachers/dedicated/ exhusted
toughest/mostUNDERPAID job in the USA hot food daily/lunchroom BANG!!Peace respect LOVE
compassion COMMUNITY FAMILY/neighborhoods working together RAT TAT TAT TATTAT
windows SHATTERED/ holes in the classroom door/ BULLETS/slaughter/bonesfleshbloodblood
jumprope recess SOCIAL WORKERS mental health issues HELP!overwhelmed exhaustedstaff/joy
holidays=Laughter=plays=theatre=family=traditions=food=costumes RobbElemantarySchool911
gunman police officer metaldectectors911911911 “I’m so scared!”SCREAMS SILENCE whimper
feet running panting running kinders on nap mats waiting for parents to pick them up before lunch/claim their bodies/ identify the dead– Madison Park Elementary School – laughter/sun
shine/friendships/playing cops and robbers/playing house/I’m the mommy you’re the daddy/
building blocks/ Inclusion/100’s board/Montessori/luchboxes/rubber boots lined up in the
hallways=DEATHBLOODTERRORteacher takes a bullet to shield a child/INNOCENT VICTIMS LOSS LOST destroyed LIVES/ life in prison/ mental health/no school today/ funerals FUNERALS/ wakes, flowers on graves, SAFETY OFF/ shattered lives separation divorce blame/innocent child NO CHANGE no change in the GUN LAWS/ back to school/ trauma/ councilors/ PTSD/outrage ACTIVISM/ PTSD/ fear FEARFEARFEAR*fear =school busses roar by-back to school/crossing guards teachers quitting teachers staying parents with no choices/parents who REMOVE their children/homeschooling/ FEARfear/Little Rock Central High School=17 dead 14 dead 27 dead 19 dead/Killers=white males between the ages of 17-28/12 children DIE each day from gun violence, another 32 are shot and injured/ compassion PEACErespect survival singing remembering honoring tears of joy and pain/ =Ulysses S. Grant High School/revenge/ hatred/ isolation/estrangement/social disorders/ pencils erasers paper EOGtesting homework textbooks hugs and smiles/ slow movements/healing maybe never/Amerika-ka-ka

sunday ironing
ritual like
so many we look
forward to – some
like crossword puzzles
baking, or sewing – my
Zenlike practice entails
listening to Mozart
sometimes Chopin, then
the squeak and snap of
the ironing board cross-
ing its long legs, making
the dog cower – so
begins the meditation
iron turned to high
detangling a mass of
freshly washed one
hundred percent cotton
pillow cases, chaotic
wrinkled, soon to be
flattened one by one
spraying a fine mist of
water – the sizzle so
satisfying as the burning
triangle presses them
envelope flat, the sweet
smell of hot rising

in half
in half
make all the kinks


so easy
if only I could do the same
with my life
with the world –
folded, stacked, shelved

Nicole Farmer is a teacher living in Asheville, NC. Her poems have been published in over forty magazines including The Closed Eye Open, Sad Girls Club, Poetry South, The Amistad, Quillkeepers Press, Haunted Waters Press, Wild Roof Journal, Bacopa Literary Review Review, and Kakalak. Nicole was awarded the First Prize in Prose Poetry from the Bacopa Literary Review in 2020. Her chapbook, ‘Wet Underbelly Wind’ was published in 2022 by Finishing Line Press. Way back in the 90’s she graduated from The Juilliard School of Drama. website: