May Your Sky Always Be Yellow

This has been passed along to me in email after a discussion about art teachers who oppress their students. It's all over the web, and it's gone around on a couple of newsgroups. I've found quite a variety of information about it, much of it conflicting.

The title of the poem:

Who wrote it and what happened after:

Time it was written:

Path of the poem as passed along:

Format and wording of the poem:

I suspect from the first line(s) being missing on many versions that those first lines could have been printed in a different type face or on a different page in some early version.

Anyway, here it is (glurge alert):


He always wanted to explain things
But noone cared
So he drew
Sometimes he would draw and it wasn't anything
He wanted to carve it in stone
Or write it in the sky
He would lie out on the grass
And look up at the sky
And it would be only the sky and him that needed saying
And it was after that
He drew the picture
It was a beautiful picture
He kept it under his pillow
And would let no one see it
And he would look at it every night
And think about it
And when it was dark
And his eyes were closed
He could still see it
And it was all of him
And he loved it
When he started school he brought it with him
Not to show anyone but just to have it with him
Like a friend
It was funny about school
He sat in a square brown desk
Like all the other square brown desks
And he thought it should be red
And his room was a square brown room
Like all the other rooms
And it was tight and close
And stiff
He hated to hold the pencil and chalk
With his arms stiff and his feet flat on the floor
With the teacher watching
And watching
The teacher came and smiled at him
She told him to wear a tie
Like all the other boys
He said he didn't like them
And she said it didn't matter
After that they drew
And he drew all yellow
And it was the way he felt about morning
And it was beautiful
The teacher came and smiled at him
"What's this?" she said
"Why don't you draw something like Ken's drawing?"
"Isn't that beautiful?"
After that his mother bought him a tie
And he always drew airplanes and rocket ships
Like everyone else
And he threw the old picture away
And when he lay out alone and looked out at the sky
It was big and blue and all of everything
 But he wasn't anymore
He was square inside and brown
And his hands were stiff
And he was like everyone else
And the things inside him that needed saying
Didn't need it anymore
It had stopped pushing
It was crushed
Like everything else.

The boy handed this poem to his English teacher.  Two weeks later he took his
own life.