I used to wait stoically for end-of-day bell.
Fingers drumming a patient-ish pattern on
tattooed desks where desperation, and that
pitiful need to belong somewhere, anywhere
meant we embraced wooden stability as friends.
If they'd looked, our thoughts were splattered
in fountain pen ink for all to peruse.
Instead they rubbed us out, or bought flimsy
replacements and moaned, moaned, moaned.

The tragedy of our potent words was our impotency,
trapped behind painted bars and smily motifs
like monkeys in a cage or dolphins in a pool.
We performed tricks on order even as we pouted,
sullenly, our refusal to fit in, to conform, to let them
crush, dampen, douse our spirits in their unquestioning
society-requires-this ways. Here, we failed.

Oblivious, they ticked off each box as success
and said "Everyone's progressing nicely."
Smug pride dancing on corpses of might-have-beens.
Once there was more to us than complacency.
Now, robot-like, we can't even see what we lost.