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ISSUE:  Autumn 1981
I’ve seen you snap pencils
between teeth after school,
your cool grin
& diamond-studded incisor
demanding justice

for a ā€œDā€ in religion.
Or dropping an open milk carton
from a third story window
into the cardboard cap of a nun.
You’ve whittled our teacher
to her last nerve ending.
You’re the first out the door.

When I thought you had gone
I sat in the desk
you control like a dragster,
slipping into the contour grasp.
Who could deny its invitation
or your sudden return
with the knife at my throat
to stun and diminish?
I want to thank you
for this dose of fear
that’s made me think
how good it is
to be an honest boy.
But the knife’s pressure
has me speechless
and the film over my eyes,
black dots like Braille,
means I’m passing out,
falling into your serious lesson.


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