"b" is for banana

In elementary school, administration required my mom to send a handwritten note to excuse me from class

My mom always wrote in cursive 

            so I could not read the letter.

I felt like a grown up

when I deciphered her messages. 

            A detective 

            As if her calligraphy hid something much obscener than “Please dismiss Ashlyn at 1:15 for the dentist.”

My eagerness to do “grown up things

was misplaced. I know, now.


I miss the days when “b”

was for “banana”

            and not something

                        your classmates call you 

                                    behind your back.


I learned to write cursive in second grade–the last year the Board of Education

mandated teachers to include cursive in their curriculum.

            mandate: verb; require something to be done

            I wonder when I learned that word.

In class, with my sharpened #2 pencils with pristine pink erasers, I was ready to write.

I learned cursive quickly.

I struggled with my "Z’s" and "Q’s"

and the lowercase letter "b" 

            I habitually wrote my “b” as a lowercase “l” 

                        With a benign growth off the right side. 

            Practice makes habit, Not perfect.


Ten years since I was first introduced to cursive.

I have learned

            The brontosaurus never existed.

            Benjamin Franklin, however extraordinary, was not a president.

            Strong chemical bases conduct electricity and

                        typically contain a hydroxyl group–the letters OH.

            Saying “I love you” does not require her to say “I love you” back.

                        The letters on my transcript matter more than my personal character.


I have yet to master that lowercase “b.”

            But I could not find words I would spell with “b” even if

                        I knew how to use the letter.

            I didn't need the "b" to say "I'm sorry"

                        yet “I’m sorry” didn't stop my best friend

                         from not being the best anymore.

I miss when my biggest concern was learning how to write the alphabet in cursive


“b” is no longer for banana. “b” is broken, betrayed.

And “b” is for barbeque,

            and, no, I did not get invited to that party

            yes, I spend my Friday nights at home.

"b" is for bed–

            as in I have cried more than I have slept in the past two days

            as in who am I? and

            what have I become?

"b" is for backbone,

            as in my spine is permanently bent from hauling my Bio books

            as in I have been hunched over my desk      all      night      long

                        as in, I won’t defend you when that boy claims you are the letter

                        that I could never quite perfect in cursive

B is for a 3.0gpa,

            as in you’re not getting into that college

            as in you won’t amount to anything

            as in you’re just a little bit above average.


What’s wrong with our school system?

Where should I begin?



This poem is about: 
My community
Guide that inspired this poem: 
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


Additional Resources

Get AI Feedback on your poem

Interested in feedback on your poem? Try our AI Feedback tool.


If You Need Support

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741