Haibun: Lessons

Two of the lessons that my fifth-grade teacher taught me I’ve never forgotten. That’s because Mrs. Pearl Shirley liked to speak in aphorisms, which, as far as I know, she made up herself, and which she drummed into my brain by quoting them in her classroom several times a day.
“You’d better get on the stick before the stick gets on you,” Mrs. Shirley said to students who were dawdling or off task. She meant that there would be consequences for inaction.
That aphorism came to mind a few years ago when I was planning where to travel. I found airfare to Copenhagen for the bargain price of $678 in March, while airfare at that time to most other European capitals was running $800-$900. But I didn’t get on the stick, and by the time I had finally decided to purchase the tickets, they were no longer available.
“You’d better use your head for something besides a hat rack,” Mrs. Shirley said to students who shrugged their shoulders and said, “I don’t know,” when she asked them a question about the lesson. Mrs. Shirley meant that one’s head is more than a decorative appendage; it’s to be used for a high and noble purpose—thinking. A mind, some wise person said, is a terrible thing to waste.
From the ripened plum,
from the raven’s tailfeather,
let there be stories!


Haibun © by Magical Mystical Teacher

Posted on September 13, 2020, in 5-7-5, haibun, haiku, Poets & Storytellers United and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I am sure we all have memories of teachers whose mannerisms, advice or care still come to mind. I had a Latin teacher and he thought little of me but did manage to give me a lasting memory as Latin was not my favorite subject when he said to me once while I was not attending to what he was saying ”Kimber, you are less than dust under my chariot wheels” as his mind was clearly on Latin Rome and would no doubt like to see me in the Colosseum.

    • magicalmysticalteacher

      Thank goodness you escaped having to face gladiators or lions in the Colosseum! We would have missed your wit and wisdom.

      On Sun, Sep 13, 2020 at 4:43 AM Magical Mystical Teacher wrote:


  2. It’s all source, isn’t it, Teach? I had one of those, too: sixth-grade (ages ago) teacher Mr Robert Blake, who somehow knew I could read & comprehend literature my classmates wouldn’t even encounter until at least High School & brought me books from his home library to read while others were still doing The Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew for entertainment.
    Great Haibun!

    PS Typo in your title?

    • magicalmysticalteacher

      Pesky typos! Thanks, Ron, for catching it. I was weary when I cobbled this story together—and still am. Bless teachers like your Mr. Robert Blake, teachers who see their students as individuals, and know just what that individual student needs to shine.

      On Sun, Sep 13, 2020 at 5:19 AM Magical Mystical Teacher wrote:


  3. WOW i enjoyed your fantastic haibun.
    What stand out in my mind is “The way of the transgressor is exceedingly difficult” that was a line we got to write hundreds of times in dentention at high school.
    Happy Sunday


    • magicalmysticalteacher

      The things you have to write again and again, you hardly ever forget. That said, I think it’s cruel and unusual punishment for teachers to make students write the same phrase repeatedly.

      On Sun, Sep 13, 2020 at 6:15 AM Magical Mystical Teacher wrote:



    I’m confused about euphemisms, aphorisms and idioms but I like the head/hat rack one.

  5. Wise teacher! I LOVE the haiku!!!

  6. Reblogged this on Frank J. Tassone and commented:
    #Haiku Happenings #5: MMT’s latest #haibun!

  7. Minds (and heads, too) are certainly terrible things to waste. Best to grab that raven’s feather. And let the tales fly!

  8. This is a stellar haibun …. stellar (I used my head to write this.)

  9. Although I’m not a teacher, I know I would have liked Mrs Shirley!…:)jp

  10. I enjoyed the anecdotes and teacherly wisdom … but most of all I love the haiku.

  11. Oh, I like Ms. Shirley. She sounds like a no-nonsense kind of teacher. She must have done well … just look at you!!

  12. Indeed, the stories and the wisdom of words. What life would be like without stories or aphorisms.

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