Enjoyed a night of storytelling at Chimera Loft (Evanston) on August 22. Here's a snapshot and the 3-minute story I told during open mic:

1973. I’d just graduated from college and got my dream job: teaching speech and drama at the new Oak Forest High School. I was going to change the world by teaching the Youth of America how to use their voices.

At new teacher orientation we were told two things. Don’t touch the kids and Don’t smile until Thanksgiving. If I was going to change the world, I was going to have to do it within those parameters.

There were challenges. There was a paper shortage so we had to print ditto master worksheets and quizzes on both sides of the paper – leaving us with a damp, fragrant, illegible purple mess. The classrooms weren’t all finished, so classes were crowded. I had 36 kids in one class, 42 in another, making it tough to keep any kind of order.

And then there was Michael. Athletic, black-hair, bright blue eyes and a big sideways grin, Michael swaggered into class each day, took his seat at the back of the room and caused a ruckus. He was never ready to do a speech and whenever some shy, nerdy kid was giving a talk, Michael was in the back snickering, making snide remarks and cracking up the others. I didn’t have a chance.

ne day, I had had enough. The heck with the “Don’t touch the kids” rule. I grabbed him by the shirt, dragged him into the hall and pinned him up against the lockers.

“What are you doing in there?”

Michael looked down at his shoes and mumbled, “Nuthin’.”

“You look at me when I’m talking to you!” He looked at me with those bright blue eyes, maybe a little frightened at my anger.

“You’re ruining the class for everybody else,” I said. “Who do you think you are?”

“Nobody.” He looked so small. And then I violated the “Don’t touch the kids” rule again and took him in my arms.

“Oh Michael,” I said, “You are somebody! Don’t you know who you are?”


I said, “You are handsome and smart and the coolest kid in the room. Everybody in that class wants to be you. I don’t know what anybody has told you, but you are somebody wonderful.”

He looked so surprised! And then he broke out that marvelous grin. “Really?”

“Yes. Really. Now, are you with me?”

“Yeah,” he said, and when we walked back into the classroom, I broke the second rule. I smiled before Thanksgiving.

We Will Not be SilencedIndieBlu(e) Poetry Anthology... contains three of my poems and hundreds of others by writers I admire. Now in print and Kindle on amazon.com.

Subtitled "The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Told Powerfully through Poetry, Prose, Essay and Art," this book is neither screed nor pity party. Rather, it’s a positive, powerful platform to give voice to people who have been sexually exploited, abused, treated as invisible.Listen and believe them.

Click for a short video:

Marilyn Rea Beyer Poetry

Here's something from my notebook:

History Lesson

He turned onto State Line Avenue

And, even though he hadn’t been back

since Mom and Dad moved to Scottsdale,

He still knew all the streets from all the Thursday mornings

When he had flung The Lansing Journal onto doorsteps.

Mrs. Schultz,

The Farleys,

The two bachelors on the corner of Wentworth and Jackson,

And the rest of the neighborhood around Coolidge School.

He hoped to find an open door

So he could walk around the halls and chuckle

at how tiny the desks would look,

How low the urinals would be.

The blackboards were probably all smartboards now.

But maybe the smell of encyclopedias and radiator heat would linger.

He tried the big door. Yes! Open.

“Hello, young man,” said the small, ancient woman

with chalk in her voice.

“Miss Mills?” No mistaking that nose.

“Why yes, and who were you?

Let me guess. A Brinkman, I think. Douglas? No. Chuck!”

He gasped at the recognition, then gasped again.

It wasn’t a school at all anymore.

“Oh, no dear. This building is now the Lansing Historical Center.”

His grandmother’s 1930s Singer sewing machine was on display.

A dressmaker’s dummy wore a bridesmaid’s dress

she had made for his sister.

A picture of his grandmother was included in the placard

with no mention

of how she had died alone at the bottom of the stairs

in the old house on Williams Street,

or how she’d forgotten all the manners that were so important to her

and started swearing a blue streak and peeing in her pants,

but wouldn’t move out of the house.

His head hurt from trying to keep from crying in front of Miss Mills.

He checked his watch and said, “Oh, look at the time!”

He thanked Miss Mills, and without even stopping

in the Boys’ Bathroom,

He stuffed a few dollars in the box marked

Preserve Our Memories, and bolted out.

He gripped the steering wheel of his rental car

Wishing for all the world that it was his old green bike

The saddlebags stuffed with fresh, tightly folded newspapers,

Back when everything was new.

©Marilyn Rea Beyer

Also: Follow the strong words of strong women in Whisper and the Roar. Two of my poems were published during June '18. Click on the poem titles to read To Live Like Shakespeare and I Never Feared Death.