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Tuesday, February 01, 2022


A found poem of lines selected from the transcript of the January meeting of the McMinn County, Tennessee School Board considering the removal of the Pulitzer Prize winning book Maus from their curriculum teaching about the Holocaust.

by Dick Westheimer

Cartoon by Andy Marlette, Pensacola News Journal, January 29, 2022

     “There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous.” 
― Hannah Arendt

You see the naked pictures. You see the razor.
You see the blade where the mom is cutting herself. 
You see her laying in a pool of her own blood.
Please, somebody lay this book down.

Sure, we do the Holocaust, but we have
processes and procedures in place here. 
We can tell the kids what happened, but we don’t need 
all the nakedness and all the other stuff.

Can I lay that in front of a child?
It ain’t happening. It is not happening.

It’s like when you’re watching TV 
and a cuss word or nude scene comes on
and you don’t look at it. You don’t look at it.

Again, reading this to myself, it was decent 
until the end. Until the end,
I really enjoyed it. I liked it. 

The end was stupid, though.
It shows people hanging, it shows them 
killing kids. It is not wise or healthy

Somebody lay this book down and say 
Look it was taught! Look it was taught! 
Say! Look! It was taught!

If I was trying to indoctrinate somebody’s kids, 
this is how I would do it. You put this stuff just so, 
this vulgarity, and the kids, they soak it in.

We don’t need the scene of the mice hanging from the tree.
We don’t need all the nakedness and all the other stuff.
We don’t need the curse words and foul language.

I never had a book with a naked picture in it! 
I never had a book with foul language!
So I vote to do away with the book.

I Vote To Do Away With The Book!

And somebody lay this book down, because
somebody will say look, it was taught in the classrooms. 
So, Madam Chairman. I’m going to bring this to a head. 

I started it so now I am going to bring it to a head. 
I move that we remove this book.
I move that we remove this book!

Dick Westheimer has—in the company of his wife Debbie—lived, gardened and raised five children on their plot of land in rural southwest Ohio. He is a Rattle Poetry Prize finalist. In addition, his recent poems have appeared or are upcoming in Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Rise Up Review, Sheila Na-Gig, Snapdragon Journal of Art and Healing, and Cutthroat.