Experiment in the Science Class, or Why I Go to Work by John Dorroh


Black-outs can last a lifetime.

Children suffer because no one cares

about them, their pitiful lives,

and where they might end up.

Fruitless garden, dead soil.

“Make a difference,” the hollow mantra

of the gatekeeper, the superintendent,

Big Man with administrator’s pay;

gold falls from his mouth every day

as he sits in his comfy leather seat.

The Great Oz.


“Class, I am going to let you choose

how you want to demonstrate

mastery of subject matter. Details

are in the pudding. I hope you like it.”

(“This dude is crazy, you know. Like

off into space. Who cares how we get

to tell our stories? We’re the gum

stuck under the seats since those

damned 60s. Fuck that shit!”)

Enter the seven muses: the Writing

Cluster. (Cluster fuck more like it.)

And Art. (Art who? I though he got

shot last year in front of Arby’s.)

Lab work. (Working in a lab…hell,

I ought to blow up this damned lab.

Yeah…) Expressive Mode notebooks.

(What the hell is that? I ain’t in some

damned English class!) Oral Reports.
(Oral? Like a blow job? Now he’s

got my attention.) Small Group Work.
(I got a group from him. A group of

fuckin’ birds to peck his eyes out.)

And Written Tests. (Oh, shit…I hate

those damned things. Teachers trying

to fuck you up, left and right.)


Protocol and guidelines posted

on the wall, in the students handbooks;

copies sent home to whoever’s there.

Choices and responsibility. (Like,

what if I make the wrong choices?

He says to choose at least three. I ain’t

doing more than that. What’s the trick?

What’s he up to? I ain’t ever had no

teacher telling me to make choices. It’s

a trap, some sort of trick. He’s a teacher,

and they’re always up to no good.)


Dead flowers with petals scattered;

need a drink of water, some nutrients

in the soil. That’s all. Some sunshine.

a little TLC. Some direction. A bit

of guidance.


I measure the height and fullness

of new flowers; count fruit; sort the

seeds and save for the new garden.

Enjoy the fruits of labor. Kiss the

data. Share with the garden keeper,

the Great Oz; see if he appreciates

the difference. Maybe, just maybe

he will. And if he doesn’t, I do.

John Dorroh helps students and teachers understand science principles and concepts by using writing and reading strategies and insisting that they assume ownership of their work. His poetry has appeared in Dime Show Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Red Fez, Tuck, Piker Press, Suisun Valley Review, Selcouth Station, and several others. He also writes short fiction and the occasional rant.