88: In Mr. Burgen’s Office

88: In Mr. Burgen’s Office

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Middle School

In Mr. Burgen’s Office

Stand up for what is right even if you are standing alone.

~Author Unknown

I’m the kid who sees a counselor
During school hours,
Every eye lifting as I speed out of the room,
On my way to Mr. Burgen’s office.
Mr. Burgen, with breath like Swiss cheese.

I spill forth my hurt and longings
To that heavy man who listens without interrupting,
Murmuring gentle expressions like,
“It’s okay,” and “I understand.”
Somehow, he does.

This year, I failed math on all three of my report cards.
This year, my sister won the Justin Wynn Scholarship for Gifted and Talented children.
This year, Jackie Lipka told every kid in the school I was a loser.
This year, Mr. Burgen was my only friend.

Nearing the end of it,
I heft battered books from my locker as two teachers breeze by.
“Burgen asked me out!” one squeals.


“No!” the other laughs. “He’s so pathetic. Did you hear him lisp through the faculty meeting?”

I crash my books to the floor and stand glaring as they turn to notice me.
“Mr. Burgen is nice to me,” I say.
One of them, red-faced and shaky, steps over to help me pick up my books.
“We didn’t mean anything...” she stammers.
The other one rolls her eyes and looks away.

I take my books and watch them scatter.
It dawns on me then that I am not the only one,
Making my way through these thorns and sharp briars.
Mr. Burgen is in middle school too.

~Juliet C. Bond

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