David Talamantez on
Day of Second Grade
By Rosemary Catacalos
David Talamantez, whose mother is at work,
leaves his mark
in the schoolyard,
tosses pages from a thick sheaf of lined
paper high in the air one
catch on the teachers' car bumpers, drift
into the chalky narrow
shade of the water
One last batch, stapled together, he rolls
tight into a makeshift
horn through which
David! and David, yes!
before hurling it away hard and darting
the light, the little sag of head and shoulders
when, safe on the
other side, he
kicks a can
in the gutter and wanders toward home.
are warm blooded,
the way they are quick in the air and give
out long strings of
all the time, not like cats and dogs. For
this he was marked down
in Science, and
his name in the wrong place, on the right
with the date instead
of on the left
Questions, and for not skipping a line
between his heading and
answers. The X's
things are big, much bigger than Talamantez's
his teacher says
in red ink across the tops of many pages.
Messy! she says on
others where he
and started over, erased and started over.
the Following Words. Neck. I have a
neck name. No! 20’s, 30's.
Think again! He's good
in Art, though, makes 70 on Reading Station
where he's traced
an illustration from Henny Penny.
A goose with red-and-white
a hen in a turquoise
dress. Points off for the birds, cloud
and butterfly he's drawn in
in the original
picture! Twenty-five points off
for writing nothing in the blank
is my favorite scene
in the book because . . . There's
a page called Rules. Listen!
Stay in your seat!
Raise your hand before you speak! No
fighting! Be quiet! Rules
copied from the
board, no grade,
only a huge red checkmark. Later there
is a test on Rules. Listen!
ercng! Sast in ao snet!
Rars aone bfo your spek! No finagn!
Be cayt! He gets 70 on
Rules, 10 on Spelling.
An old man
stoops to pick up a crumpled drawing of
a large family crowded
around a table,
with bars on the windows in Alazan Courts,
a huge sun in one
After correcting the spelling, the grade
is 90. Nice details! And
mark, on this paper
and all the others, the one in the doorway
of La Rosa Beauty
Shop, the one
that blew under
the pool table at La Tenampa, the ones
older kids have wadded
up like big spitballs,
the ones run
over by cars. On every single page David
Talamantez has crossed
out the teacher's
and written in giant letters, blue
ink, Yes! David, yes!
Extension: Read the poem to the class, pay special attention to the line breaks and the italicized words. Then break
the class into groups for a choral reading. Each group reads a paragraph. This will require attention to detail and timing
as the paragraphs are not new sentences but continuations of the preceding paragraph's sentences.
the poem. What does it mean? Why didn't David do well in class? Could the teacher have done things differently? Should she
have? How do you think the other students treated David? What would we do? What should we do?
talk about the last paragraph which defines David's irrepressible spirit.
Was David going to succeed in life? Why or why not?