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My most memorable academic years are those of junior high school. School felt like a family to me. I was enrolled in a bilingual program, so all of my subjects (except English class) were conducted in Spanish. I was given the opportunity to recite this amazing poem.

This experience is vividly etched in my conscious memory



(From a Montage of Poems: Harlem)

This year, maybe, do you think I can graduate? I’m already two years late. Dropped out six months when I was seven, a year when I was eleven, then got put back when we came North, To get through high at twenty’s kind of late -

But maybe this year I can graduate.

Maybe now I can have that white enamel stove

I dreamed about when we first fell in love

eighteen years ago.

But you know,

rooming and everything

then kids,

cold-water flat and all that.

But now my daughter’s married

And my boy’s most grown -

quit school to work -

and when we’re moving

there ain’t no stove -

Maybe I can buy that white enamel stove!

Me, I always did want to study French.

It don’t make sense -

I’ll never go to France,

but night schools teach French.

Now at last I’ve got a job

where I get off at five,

in time to wash and dress,

so, s’il vous plait, I’ll study French!


I’m gonna buy two new suits

at once!

All I want is

one more bottle of gin.

All I want is to see

my furniture paid for.

All I want is a wife who will

work with me and not against me.

Say, baby, could you see your way clear?

Heaven, heaven, is my home!

This world I’ll leave behind

When I set my feet in glory I’ll have a throne for mine!

I want to pass the civil service.

I want a television set.

You know, as old as I am, I ain’t never owned a decent radio yet?


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