Monday, June 21, 2010

Penetrating the jungle

They say evolution has come a long way since the dawn of mankind, but under the flickering light and shadow of the classroom canopy you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. High school is a blackboard jungle and inside its difficult-to-navigate confines, survival of the fittest reigns supreme.

As you penetrate this uncivilised terrain, brushing away the vines that scratch at your face and avoiding the pits that have been dug to trap the unwary, you must be on your guard at all times. Should you find someone of the same species to watch your back, or better still, a pack that you can become part of, you achieve some measure of safety. If you discover, however, as I did, that you are the last remnant of an almost-extinct breed then it is now you against the rest of the world. It is a thriving ecosystem you have just entered and those above you on the foodchain are always hungry for fresh blood.

In my own struggle to maintain my delicately poetic lifeforce, I adopted many jungle warfare strategies. Camouflage was particularly effective, and while it can sometimes stifle the creative spark, if approached as a grand adventure, there is a silver lining to the subterfuge. During my time undercover in the wild and unruly depths of higher learning I gleaned what knowledge I could of the human animal and its strengths and weaknesses. Putting myself at risk, I plunged headlong into the dense vegetation and sought the seeds of truth where they lay discarded after the feeding frenzies of my classmates.

National Geographic's most intrepid reporters have nothing on this poet.

What memories of the blackboard jungle are lurking in the darkest depths of your mind? What squawks and what growls still haunt you as you try to drift to sleep in the dead of a winter night?

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