Prairie Poetry   

As they do the first week of each June
When new summer heat crack last year's stems
A plague of statistics teachers have descended upon Lincoln
For the AP reading
A vast swirling maelstrom swooping across the Nebraska farmlands

Drawn in hundreds from chalky classrooms and school bells
To a succulent crop of 90,000 free-response questions
Piled high as a corncrib
As reams of wheat stalks

Even from Omaha you can hear
Their graphing calculators clicking
Like stiff wings against brittle chitin
Their sharpened # 2 pencils gnawing into adolescent's exams
Like mandibles disassembling tender young stalk and leaf
Thirsty after long migration for correct chi-square statistics
And experimental designs properly randomized,
Unquenchably hungry for juicy t-tests and sweet pheromones of p-values

Back home, like hopeless farmers sensing this dark cloud of buzzing wings,
Teens wait for scores to arrive in the July envelopes,
Single digits, one to five, 
That report the devastation to their tender green shoots
The damage done their crops and their future.

  William Carroll
  Copyright © 2006 William Carroll
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