Size / / /

Redder than an apple,

with a smell like pencil shavings

and chalk-white, half-erased eyes,

it sits in the back of the classroom

watching us

(and by us I mean the entire clutch

of sixth-grade boys),

growling at the first sign

of trouble, whether it's gum-chewing,

text messaging, or basic

inattention—although somedays

even bad penmanship

will raise its hackles—

threatening to either amend our

permanent record, write a note to our

parents, or, in the case of

Catholic instruction, rap our fingers

with a ruler.

Various stratagems for outwitting

the beast have been tried

or suggested over the years,

entering the lore of playground

and bathroom graffitti, but

the only effective means I've

ever found is chemical: two Ritalin,

which I'm taking now, even as

the first bell rings.

Presently, as my hand rises up, it's

the clarity of math that frightens me.




Robert Borski works for a consortium of elves repairing shoes in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. You can read more of his work in our archives.
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18 May 2020

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