Literacy has stalled

English: Map of World Literacy by UNHD

English: Map of World Literacy by UNHD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The sun only slowly burns off the morning fog;
a mind is clearing.
I’ve been cursing the cold and remind

myself of the time of year.
‘Literacy has stalled’. The radio spits out
this throw-away phrase.

It gets stuck in my craw, as if
this country hadn’t already been thrown
to the dogs, its mangled corpse

not tossed around for years, plaything
of the Whitehall hounds
and their circling vultures, both

rather good at feigning that they care.
‘Literacy has stalled’. As if it ever really
got going, it’s been a hidden truth

for decades; those miraculous exam
successes where league table is king. Never
common sense, not discipline and

certainly never values. And here’s
carte blanche to dress it all up; new curriculums
and shining academies: Zero times zero

equals zero.
Literacy has stalled: so tell me something
new! Nearly everything learned I’ve taught

myself, it’s a case of needing to but
I’ve yet to train my eye to spot who’s
behind the tail that wags the

elephant in the room

poem © copyright Dave Barker 2012



  1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs · December 4, 2012

    You gave me a great hiccup of a chuckle with your last line! I’m going to pass this over to DailyGadfly who will surely enjoy it as well!


  2. dfb · December 4, 2012

    Oh, thank you!!!


  3. susanjanejones · December 4, 2012

    This is so serious and true, yet it’s funny as well.


  4. dfb · December 4, 2012

    Thank you!!!


  5. Three Well Beings · December 5, 2012

    I don’t know how universal this condition is, but we could take your words and apply them directly to what is true for the U.S.–sadly true. I love the ending as well…the last verse is perfect!


  6. rangewriter · December 5, 2012

    I’ve been reading some stuff by Native Americans which has made me very aware of the different kinds of literacy that exist in the world. There is literacy of the land, of life, which to those living on the land, has a greater value than literacy of words which are, in fact, so ephemeral. Interesting ideas to think about.


  7. dfb · December 6, 2012

    Thank you!!!


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