Dreaming of Fourth Grade or Something Like It

By Mark J. Mitchell

You sit straight up, watch the redundant nun

Stab at the blackboard. Your hands are folded,

Thumbs crossed. You’ve been blisteringly scolded

For something you meant to do, should have done—

Was it memorizing martyrs? Maybe

Sorting out some saints? Obscure categories

Of sin distract you and suggest more fun

 

Than Bible History class, even in a dream.

Still asleep, you can smell the chalk, the book.

You feel small, restless and dumb as you look

At iron plate engravings. They seem

To change to color pictures of a girl

You never talked to, or wanted to. Her curls

Become snakes, slide towards you. You wake. Scream.

___

Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock, and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last thirty-five years, as well as the anthologies Good Poems, American Places, Hunger Enough, and Line Drives. His chapbook, Three Visitors, will be published by Negative Capability Press later this year and his novels, The Magic War and Knight Prisoner will be published in the coming months. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and film maker Joan Juster. Currently he’s seeking gainful employment since poets are born and not paid.


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