Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ode to Beastmaster

I never thought that I would write two tributes to departed legends in two consecutive weeks. It is a most unfortunate truth. But both Robin Williams and my high school teacher Bob McAllister deserve all the accolades they receive in the days following their respective deaths.

Since Mr. McAllister was a poet, I’ve decided to write a poem for him. I’ll always treasure the book of poetry he signed for me after my college graduation (for which he also wrote my recommendation letter).

Ode to Beastmaster

I first met Mr. McAllister in a class with no windows
But he put two posters of windows on the wall, looking out onto a splendid ocean view.
I signed up for ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ in that room,
Second trumpet in the pit.
Just one of many players on Team Mac
'West Side Story', 'Once on This Island' and 'Ivanha.'
It’s the worst high school play in the world.
His words, not mine!

He wanted us to think outside the box
But hated clich├ęs like ‘outside the box’
“How about outside the cantaloupe?
Or outside the socks?”
“What words CAN’T you rhyme with burrito?”

He coached us as we wrestled with Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Hardy, McCarthy
He showed us videos of street artists and Paul Simon concerts
A good friend came out as gay in McAllister’s class
Upon which Bob turned into a sage cheerleader, proud as a teacher could be.

A storyteller of the highest order, transforming athletic teenagers into quivering white knuckled children during 'The River Boys.'
A sensitive carpenter, decorating his classroom with photos of feminists taking to the street and a popped collar James Dean.
Never seen without a pair of Converse sneakers, always wondered how did he store them all at home.

Thanks Mr. M for memories, mayhem and Mercutio.
For humor, heart and heavenly literature.
For that laugh, that smile and that voice.
Thanks for putting your spirit into every lesson and every rehearsal.
The world is your moisture, tomorrow is another sway, life’s not square.

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