Hardwired — Joanna Beresford

Image: Kelli Tungay on Unsplash


Good morning boys and girls!

Line up, hats off, got your books and pen?

G’day, hi there, how’d your weekend go?

Welcome, everybody. Let’s go in.


In my class there’s a boy

who behaves like a tongue-lolling pup.

He’s bounding about and chasing his tail,

Until the other kids shout, ‘Shut up.’


In the corner is Rosie,

quills bristling. I hate you. Please love me.

Soldiers dressed in pink line up on her flesh

to guard a trauma no one can see.


Aiden stares at his device.

‘What? I wasn’t?’ Every bloody day.

His mum should stop distracting him with texts

if she’s so worried about his grade.


Screech, teach, preach and perform.

Eyes, so many beady eyes in sight.

Piercing, closing and blinking disinterest.

Sitting still, every chance of a fight.


Harsh ripping and tearing.

Ignore the jeering while feeling crazed,

depriving hungry beasts from their carcass.

This is, after all, why I am paid.

Insist youth must soar high!

So why do some slip through the cracked tape

like flooding February rains gushing,

groaning, pushing to find an escape?



Where are you, kid, today?

Maslow says you must survive then thrive.

Petrol tank empty?  Moving house, again?

Glad, each morning, to still be alive?


David, where is your book?

Soak yourself with valuable knowledge.

Don’t settle down on a factory floor

Choking on Oliver’s grey porridge.’


The world’s a glowing coal.

Heart’s leaning in while head’s leaning out.

Quickly, keep moving to stop getting burned.

Can someone else sort these darlings out?


Girls can do anything!

Giggling tendencies must be oppressed.

Shout as loud as you should, ‘Me too, me too!’

Don’t say ‘like me’ or press like, always stressed.


Be like Mele and Tim,

islands in this tempest furious?

See? They’re sitting right up there at the front,

Hardwired to feel safe and curious.


Paradise is not lost

Some of you will shrug off sorrow,

even if it kills me. There goes the bell.

Bye. See you tomorrow.


Joanna Beresford is a high school English teacher and freelance writer from Brisbane. Her words have been included in The Hong Kong Review, Quadrant Magazine, Stringybark Short Stories, and the Queensland Writers Centre Flash Fiction Prize. She enjoys blogging at her writer site www.joannaberesford.com.