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  • Justine Thomas

Collective Action

Updated: 3 days ago

By Justine Thomas

This isn’t Beaumont, this is

Woburn, and we will dance.

 

You can’t tell us not to,

not when a chorus of car honks and

      the echo of persistent chants and

      the cacophony of new friendships

pulse across the street.

 

This is our common ground–

the Common’s frozen ground–

And we will dance if we need to,

With the sweet scent of free pizza,

      handwarmers in our shoes,

      and Bonnie Tyler

to keep the cold at bay.

 

Three days later, she texts me a picture

One handwarmer, marked with the print of a boot,

One of thousands that kept us warm.

“I bet I know what this is,” she types.

 

I, too, know what it is.

It is us.

A little dirty.

Stepped on.

Tired.

But still there.



 

Can You Just Go to Class?

By Justine Thomas


An adolescent male,

balanced between his

childhood and what comes next:

Decisions to make.

Expectations to meet.

Failure to avoid.

Go to class, it says,

Haven’t you skipped enough?--

It doesn’t mean the meals, or the trips to the playground, or that one time the whole junior class went to Washington D.C. but you got stuck at

KFC, working

long hours to help out your

mother–

No. It means class.

Only English or Chemistry or History and definitely Algebra.

Past trauma? Education doesn’t care.

Quick results is what it wants.

Reluctantly, it allows him to go the nurse, the

school counselors, the bathroom, that one teacher he likes, but he needs to understand:

Very few people could do

what he does

X plus

Y times everything he went through, and makes it equal anything but

Zero.





 

Justine Thomas is an English teacher turned school social worker / adjunct professor in Massachusetts. Her publication history is just as scattered as she is--a science fiction story in an anthology, a chapter in a neuropsychology textbook, a creative nonfiction essay on a parenting website--you get the idea. 



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