curriculum development

the last schoolhouse fire to claim a child
was in 1958. a statistic often cited
by SWAT members and school administrators
swaying before a cafeteria of teachers,
selling us on why we’ll be shot
with water or rubber or paint.
the district’s safety team is convinced
we mitigate danger through teaching
what to do in case of an emergency.

they tell us they’ve run the numbers.
solved the equation. perfected
the analogy for preparedness—
fire drill is to active shooter drill,
as Our Lady of the Angels is to
Columbine. how hide, fight, or flee
replaces stop, drop, and roll.

they forget the unflinching equality
of physics, the biology of a blaze.
heat does not discriminate
by hair color. by eye or nose shape.
by melanin or chromosome count.
flames never fire orange tracers or
drag grey bodies like a shaking shield.

after the simulations and controlled
stampede, the review of pre-recorded
announcements and evacuation
procedures; after suffering the new crisis
management software on our personal phones,
and the insipid questions of the usual suspects,

we wonder if we’ll be ready when smoke
and unnatural gases begin to crawl from an army
surplus canister; when students start their low
serpentine scramble through hallways, tumble
like prayer down crowded stairwells, or fly
screaming from red-stained glass; when they
comfort-cover like voles away from doors
barricaded with bookcases, bracing against
the backdraft of black-clad bullets; when we
lunge to throw books, staplers, and desks
to disrupt—a firebreak of ODDA loops;
when we become blankets covering
their bodies from smoldering slugs.