(Poet’s note: This is a longer poem than usual and one that I am not quite sure it works. It is inspired by a reading of the book The Numerati, which looks at how math and data is becoming more and more important as we move more of our world online. The phrases of Buckets, and Barnicles, and Butterflies stayed with me.)
In a book about data and how numbers are becoming us
as we become the math, if you can imagine such a thing,
the concept of “barnacles” and “butterflies” and “buckets” filled my head:
Buckets are us —
all of us put into digital piles by the Numerati
based on interest, habits and exploration —
I’m happy to make room in my bucket for you
if you share my routines and my algorithm.
Barnacles are some of us —
those of us who scour the Sunday news for coupons
and search for the deals so that they can pull
a daytime heist at the store in plain sight of the
anguished managers who wish to scrape them off the sides
of the cashier line.
Butterflies are some of us, too —
those of us who wander about, never showing allegiance
to a brand, or a store, or a product, just simply
an unreliable beauty moving down a wayward path
I thought about my classroom —
about who stands in which bucket:
Who is clinging to every word to know “exactly” what to do
to get the best grade possible
but never taking a chance for fear of failure;
or who it is who barely gets a glimpse of the ground
while up in flight of their own imagination
with nary a concern for anything other than the flight.
I stand here with a net filled with holes
as the ship gets weighed down
and is pushed hard into the iceberg of standardized testing.
And you can bet my bucket is full
with teachers just like you.
Peace (in the numbers),