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3 minutes reading time (616 words)

For Gus Donaldson Gaul, a poem

AHS graduation speeches

"Speakers of Sound," a poem by Gus Donaldson-Gaul, an Arlington High School honors speaker on June 4, 2022.

Thank you, everyone. To my peers, to my fellow speech contenders, to the teachers who got me up to this stage… Thank you. I actually have a poem today. Hope you enjoy it.

To achieve success

We do our personal best

We respect others and ourselves

We take responsibility for our choices and actions

We cooperate to maintain a safe community

We celebrate our rich diversity.

In my brain and heart

These lines are bound

As they once emerged from
The speakers of sound.

Sunk in the ceilings

At an old school in town

How long ago, you ask?

Way, way back,

And even further down.

Not in some mine, 

Or some underground bunker

Gem and ore filled

With a wily old spelunker

I chatter of time

I aim to be exact

12 years ago

Was the first backpack

 I packed.

But before I knew it

Through ages aplenty 

Here I stand 

Feeling mysteriously empty

And now this spiel

Is embedded in me

And I choose to decipher

What it’s meaning

Could be.

To achieve success?

It's really quite easy

It's not just “respect”

None remotely that cheesy

This list of six

I just went and spoke

Will not truly get your head

Out of the smoke

Oh, you want to succeed?

First, just accept

That inevitable moment

Of feeling inept

I speak of failure

To lose, crash, be beaten

“It's quite universal

To feel surely defeated.”

Because those people who win?

Day after day?

No time for them to 

Have thoughts to weigh!

No reflections for them!

No strength to be gained!

No wondrous moments

Of staring blankly at rain!

No moment to say-

Yes, I am a human!

Never laugh at the fact

That their life is in ruins!

No water is shed!

From tear ducts perfected!

It gets boring for those

Who are never rejected!

Perfection impending? 

Diverge!  I say, flee!

And join those among you

Who choose to just be.

So where do we go?
What should I say?
Without repeating myself

Or sounding cliche?

Oh, i've an idea

It goes something like this

I've failed more here

Then I care to admit.

I sank my biology

Class’ grade percentage

To something so terribly

Bad, in perspective

I crabbed a oar during

My final crew races

The whole thing just sunk

Full boat abases

I went out of my way

To keep my head down

To feel terribly sorry

To not belong in this town

But occurrences surfaced

And I saw the truth.

I had to be bigger

And depart from my youth.

 I suppose I can say

That this school did its magic

As I eventually realized

That life isn’t so tragic

So - I salute those

Who went out and seized

Every moment of highschool

With relative ease.


Now where do we go?
What should I say?
Without repeating myself

Or sounding cliche?

During this era

Of caps off and soaring

While seniors galore

Are off and exploring

Considering fresh times

And their future days

Preparing themselves

For a whole different phase-

I say let's think

Of our childhood years

Of quick games of 4-square

Or juvenile tears

Or sleepovers many

Or stupid school dances

Or considerably off putting

Grade circumstances

So while we enter

New paths of our choosing

Let’s recall the reality

Of failure and losing

And continue to daydream

Of sentences bound

That once escaped from

The speakers of sound.

Thank you - and congratulations, class of 2022.

This expression of opinion at the 2022 Arlington High School commencement was published Saturday, June 4, 2022.

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