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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Encouragement (02/23/12)

TITLE: Who Was That Scary man?
By Linda Germain
02/29/12
~1st Place


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Typical graduation rite like every other one
A blur of same-colored gowns packed tightly in their rows
With matching caps, some tassels swinging
Camera’s clicking, wiggled seats creaking…waiting


Plastic smiles on VIPs introduced to polite applause
Someone sang, perhaps the choir
Time like molasses tortured the already bored
And then the famous man strode to his appointed place…and spoke


All settled down to test their patience
Some folding programs into shapes or trying not to sleep
Hoping he would say his piece, short and sweet
Like every one for decades back had done…but NOT TODAY


Tall and commanding, more handsome than his pictures
The sudden deep controlling voice boomed throughout the room
Followed by silence as his eyes roved from each to each
Daring even one to move or turn away…and none would fidget or forget



With all attention at his call Famous Man roared once more
You may forget every word said at all assemblies but
This is one you WILL REMEMBER, I promise

A few coughed, ill at ease, but all eyes were forward…staring


For longer than normal for such a time he held them in his hand
Spellbound and confused but wanting more while hoping for an end
What I have to say will be a shock, but I know the truth lies not in this silly
Pomp but in each Circumstance…most of you will waste your lives



Huh? That wasn’t from the playbook of rah-rah talks
Almost-degreed folks expect to be served with honey on this
Marching day with family and food in the wings and futures
Waiting to be savored

Was he crazy? Still…they sat and didn’t move


Even now, covered by your robes, you’re itching to be done
To party all night long, to drink and sniff and snuff and reach
For things beyond your stupid brains to know what destroys and
Defines you ‘til you die. Here’s my advice: DO IT! DO IT!


Go for broke. Smoke it, taste it, shoot it. Be immoral and immodest as you
Dance in what you think is freedom down a street that ends
With broken dreams and most of you, who live to tell, will regret
Every silly road you took and had to turn around



Loved ones glanced from here to there thinking someone in charge
Would tell him to sit down and shut his mouth
He was not saying things they came to hear on this special day
When children big, but not all grown marched and smiled…how dare he?


He wasn’t through and paced the floor stabbing air to make his point
No word will you hear from me about how you are our future…
You are not mine, with your foggy brains inclined to yak and type and play
But couldn’t live a second with no power at your beckoning



Then he stopped and spoke with a caressing voice so soft
His sad, sad face near tears, pleading to be heard
But, there are one or two, or three…or more
Who, like cream, will rise above the rest of you who cannot wait to sink



The strangest speech ever heard on that campus or any other
Closed with one more snap of the great man’s verbal whip
I didn’t come to lull you with simpered junk you’ll forget before
You shed your matching covers and dash to what you think is fun


Nor pat you on the back and tell you what a great thing you have done
But grab you by your scruffy necks and plunk you down in reality
Like a mother dog moving babies to a safer higher ground
Until they learn to tread with wisdom in an unsafe world



With that decree he stomped off stage and disappeared
While anxious feet trod slowly to the table full of rolled-up papers
Tied with ribbons stating they had done what they had come to do
But in twenty years they’d still recall…the scary man who made them think

_____

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Member Comments
Member Date
Camille (C D) Swanson 03/01/12
Wow - what an interesting story. This was a clever way of presenting the topic...It was well written, and made the reader think!

Nicely done. God Bless~
Martha Black03/02/12
Well, that was different. You certainly didn't know the end from the beginning. But how sad to know the strong strain of truth in this article. I don't know if the scary man was real or fictional. If he was real, he was probably never asked to speak to graduating student again, but perhap he should speak again--to multitudes of students--and to their parents. Unique!
Helen Curtis03/05/12
Wow. I'm not sure whether to jump up and applaud him or throw something at him! On the one hand what he says is true, but on the other our worth is not defined by what we achieve but by how we live. A very interesting and thought-provoking piece of writing. Well done.
Camille (C D) Swanson 03/08/12
Congratulations! God Bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/08/12
This is a wonderful idea to have this story be a graduation speech. I love the message and you make poetry look easy Congratulations!
Ruth Thoutenhoofd03/08/12
I loved this! Congratulations on a very well deserved win.
Lillian Rhoades 03/08/12
Congratulations on a very creative piece. You certainly had a unique angle for the topic!
BethMcLendonMiller McLendon-Miller03/08/12
Powerful! Excellent job! It is obvious why you won first place!
Danielle King 03/08/12
Unique and creative. Congratulations on placing 1st.
Andrea Van Ye 03/08/12
Really enjoyed reading this ... interesting approach and writing style. It made me think -- and I appreciate that!
Melanie Kerr 03/08/12
Awesome. Poetry is supposed to connect with the emotions. I connected. I wish I was that man speaking those words to every pupil that comes through my classroom door.
Pat Guy 03/08/12
No surprises here for our Linda! Genius! Congrats, girl. Good to read your work again. <3
brian ward 05/08/12
Well a very timely piece if only we all heard this everyday maybethe world would back tread andrealize we are apeople of inconsistent turmoil maybe we could change who we are evenifjust for one day
Guy Humphries06/03/12
Profound!! Exactly what every graduate MUST hear.
Seema Bagai 07/01/12
Congrats on your BoB placing!
Joanne Sher 07/01/12
Oh, Linda - so powerful and important - and masterfully crafted! Congrats on your 3rd place BoB placing, my friend - and drop me a PM or something. Need to interview you for the blog :) Excited for ya, "old-timer."
Michael Edwards 07/01/12
Hi Linda,
Great entry. Your writing talent shines through as you captivate the reader.
Congratulations and God Bless, Mike & Bea Edwards
Glynis Becker 07/01/12
A wonderfully creative piece! Congratulations on your win!
Danielle King 07/01/12
I remember this one. It stayed in my mind. Maybe I was one of the students!!!
Congratulations on placing 3rd in BOB. A well deserved win!
Allison Egley 07/01/12
This is great. You pack a lot of truth in here, in a very powerful way. A mighty big "CONGRATS" on 3rd place Best of the Best!
Beth LaBuff 07/01/12
Linda, Super congrats on winning 3rd place Best of the Best for 2012 with this thought-provoking, memorable story!
Charla Diehl 07/05/12
Linda,
Congratulations on your BoB placement with this riveting and stirring piece. Too many speakers say what they think we want to hear--so I applaud the ones who say what we NEED to hear. Great word crafting throughout this story poem.
Kon Michailidis07/09/12
Great piece of poetry! I hope the scary man was real. We forget that most of the graduates are really only children who need a father's wisdom to guide them. One question: Why call him scary?
Camille (C D) Swanson 07/09/12
Congrats Linda! I am so thrilled for you. How wonderful. God Bless~
Brenda Blakely 07/24/12
Congratulations first of all. It is a very engaging piece of work. I teach GED graduates and many of them have already discovered that what was spoken. I think that maybe one of them made that speech to high school graduates. It is a speech a graduate or us will not soon forget.
Judith Gayle Smith02/26/13
Incredible. I would love to have your imagination . . .