All the significant lines, above and below, intersect at the border.
The guards of the border guard these lines.
We all ride those lines, back and forth, every day.
The border is where one’s ride stops, where you get out.

The merry-go-rounds are for children only, or for adults
who choose to go in circles. Likewise the slides,
for which the corresponding image is rapid, smooth decline.
The Tunnel is for lovers who choose not to see each other.

The machines of the border enumerate and mark.
Your number is “1”; your mark means nothing.
The border’s chief virtue is efficiency, every line
numbered, marked, and made to run on time.

House of Science, House of Art, House of Money, House of War:
these are the barracks of the guards of the border.
Beyond the border, they say, you do not wish to pass.
They say beyond the border lie more, more terrible borders.


Jerry McGuire
from his book Vulgar Exhibitions
Eastern Washington University Press 2002

reprinted with permission of the poet


For a Geography Class

Lesson Plan for Jerry McGuire’s Poem “Terminal”
by Laurie A. Williams

Have students discuss as a group or in pairs or small groups the multiple meanings of the following words.

bound (nouns and verbs)
Pass out a copy of the poem and read it aloud in class. Bridging on the discussion of the words above, have students discuss the poem in relation to boundaries between countries and cultures.

Have students choose a region and a time period. These can be from a hat or chosen by students or the teacher.

Have students work individually or in pairs and research their region in that particular time period and include physical boundaries of that region, cultural and religious boundaries, economic boundaries, trade routes, any disputed lands, what could be considered this regions House of Science, House of Art, House of Money, and House of War at the chosen time period.

As part of the presentation for their information, have students create a visual representation of their region paired with a poem detailing the various terminals and boundaries found in that region at that particular time.

For an English Class

Lesson Plan for Jerry McGuire’s Poem “Terminal”
by Laurie A. Williams

This is a good poem to use for discussion the function of line breaks and how line breaks enhance the meaning of the poem. It is also good to show how enjambment can work.

Begin the class with a discussion of how the line functions.

How does a line function in art (a line in drawing, painting, sculpture)?

in geometry?
in longitude and latitude?
in aging (laugh lines, wrinkles)?
as demarcation (battle lines, borders)?
as a rope (throw me a line)?
as a route (the Sunset line)?
as an electric or gas line?
as a course of procedure (different lines of thought)?
as a general concept (along the lines of)?
in acting (what’s my line)?

in a poem (the individual lines of a poem)?

If students do not know the terms end-stopped and enjmabed, define those for them. End-stopped lines end with punctuation of some sort or the stopping of the thought. Enjambed lines flow over into the next line in sense and rhythm.

Pass out a copy of the poem to students and read it aloud in class.

Have students number the lines on the left hand side.

What is the total number of lines?

How many are end-stopped? How many are enjambed?

Reread the poem and have a different student read an individual line in order to hear the lines as lines.

What lines in the poem mention lines or allude to lines (any type of lines)?

What lines of the poem stand-out or draw attention? Why?

Have students go through the poem quatrain by quatrain and discuss what is occurring in the poem and then the larger meaning.

Have students create different linebreaks for this poem by placing a slash mark / where they think the line could break to create more enjambment.

Have students read the newly lined poem, pausing after each line so everyone can hear where the line breaks.

Does using more enjambment create a different meaning? a different rhythm?

Have students then write two poems, one with mostly end-stopped lines and one with mostly enjambed lines.

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