After Begins

By
After Begins


Plus Minus Zero

She sat us in a circle
Benjamin to the main office, please.
And gave us a biting alligator
Daddy, why aren’t you at work?
We passed it counterclockwise
Chelsea, you’re not going on the bus today.
Pushing down its plastic teeth
It’s Tuesday! You’re supposed to be in the city!
Waiting to see who it would bite
Catherine to the main office.
The alligator snapped down on my finger
Did anyone get hurt?
We gasped
I’ll cover your class. Go…check.
Reset the toy
Why did they do that?
And kept playing
Everybody’s leaving early! We don’t have to share!


Plus Three

Write a poem about your definition of hero

We all wanted to be firemen when we grew up
Big strong arms
Tall hot flames
Shiny red trucks
Now, we’re not so sure about
A poem about your definition of hero

She was our class mother
She made us Christmas cake
With snowfall icing
And pine needle sprinkles
The year before she became a
Poem about your definition of hero

My mother took over
But when she made cupcakes
For the winter party
Jenny said they didn’t taste right
I agreed
About your definition of hero

I was wearing my concert skirt
And my party shoes
When the priest said a prayer
In a language I didn’t understand
I nodded and said amen to
Your definition of hero

Richie came back to school, eventually
Jenny sat next to him at lunch
They didn’t talk
But she did give him her pudding
She always tried to hard to be the
Definition of hero

I’m staring at construction paper
My washable marker lies in front of me, topless
Everyone else is talking about the years first fistfight
And illustrating their poems
I guess they know how to draw the meaning
Of hero

The teacher leans over my desk
And tells me that if my picture is good enough
It could get hung up on the wall
And would I like any help?
I would
I want to know what she thinks the answer is
She smiles
Pats my head
And goes to help somebody else
Hero



Plus Eight

I want to be alone
But the train is teeming
And there is a half empty seat next to a girl in an NYU sweatshirt
Stranger, can I sit?
She tells me
That when there’s an empty seat
You don’t have to ask
You just take it
She’s at that age
That age when she’s not my age
Separated by a couple of years
And independence
Her knees graze her chin
As graffiti flits by
Smog is threaded through her hair
She sticks her nose to the window
Sweat squelches
Skyscrapers morph into summer
Her pupils touch mine through the glass
She wants to know
If I like my book
I tell her the truth
She remembers reading it
Way back in high school
A grimace tries to blossom
So she asks me
Where I’m from
I meet the eyes of the aisle
And grip my purse
Her face is Play-Doh
Left in the oven too long
Dried with Dollar Store gloss
She turns back to the window
And grasps for the trees
When she gets off
I take her seat
And curl into a ball
Safe
And alone





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