Passion For Woodmore

(This poem is a reflection upon the students that I met while working as an assistant at Woodmore Elementary School in Chattanooga TN. On November 21, 2016 a school bus crash carrying 37 students from Woodmore took the lives of 6 children and injured many more. I became an employee at Woodmore in January 2017 with grant funds given to the school after the accident.

Passion For Woodmore  by Mark Anderson, June 2017

8:07 am, he drops in his seat

stone cold face, eyes down, no sparkle.

Like an old man he stares ahead,

“Who am I, how did I get here?”

No mother kissed or hugged him

to prepare his heart for the day.

At age 10 he is alone.


Another  youth laughs, she is brilliant.

Her hair and features anticipate

the blossom of great beauty,

but she is unaware

of the boys who will consume,

not respect, this precious one.

When the industry of entertainment enslavement

sells raps of lips and hips, and grooves

to be preyed upon, then who

can protect this one?


Angry violent girl boasts of the harm

she will do – cuz, “She was lookin at me.”

Will she be the one who

engages the man in blue

and is slain, or slay,

her weaker foe?

Another generation comes and goes.


They lock horns, engage, verbal assault,

smack down, trash talk; “Your mother is – your father do”

Sad cuz they, of all the kids, are most kin

their own self-hatred burns, deeply.

So I plead, please stop. For these two

are both too precious to lose.


A boy, exceptionally bright, focusses, concentrates,

more than others. A classic case,

full of potential, but I fear

for him, a statistic born

into gangs, they are everywhere,

and he – he is most vulnerable.

His family I suspect, is in


One sweetheart, seldom smiles.

What kind of hardness

must be in her home?

Can you imagine, at twenty three,

with a few scars, or incarcerated?


An insult, a push, fists fly,

angry emotions, no restraint,

impulse rules, is the only rule,

in this hostile environment. But they

are only ten, going on eighteen

or thirty five, doing nine to life.


Then suddenly one day, a beautiful fall day, when children should play,

six departed this world, leaving empty seats, and wounded hearts.

This school that did not need more suffering, received it.

A young driver carelessly, speeding, being silly, delivered it.

Do not attempt to make sense, to reason or rationalize, why.

From ancient times humanity has pushed against that veil, to no avail.

So we cry, and wail, and become the hands that heal.

I cry out “God, intervene, touch, heal, redeem, these precious ones.”


Elvis, Beyonce, Gaga, Snoop, you all

get rich off the evil influence you push,

take responsibility. Spell it; re-spon-si-bil-ity!

Babylon you capitalistic whore, won’t you pay more,

than minimal to those mothers who flip

your burgers? And all the parents who

will not care enough to grow

and provide, safety, comfort, and care,

to you I plea. And to the fathers who

could take time, to sit and read

with your child, to you we all beg;

it is your turn.


In the midst of this pain there is,

precious joy. Kids dance in their stroll

to the pencil sharpener. Silly kids

tease and giggle. A boy excited

at the power, confidence that he – yes, little he

has learned his threes and four timeses.

Four students, one with hurt feelings,

tears starting to flow, the others stop

to comfort, to shelter, from the harshness

of this place. A big smiling girl

with the freedom of youth to speak

things an adult would guard lets free

her words to bless and bring to tears

an old man’s eyes.

%d bloggers like this: