208. In Class: Alliance

James grimaced:
WIPE YOUR EAR.
Barker, sitting in his desk,
Rubbed with a torn sleeve
At his hair:
          DROP DEAD.
His sleeve is mostly arms, James thought,
With holes and rips–but
What the heck–so’s mine.
Against Matt, and
Randy Tally’s nephew,
Postman’s boy, and several others,
James had made common cause,
In playground tauntings,
With the tenants’ sons and
Daughters–who, thought James,
Hit good as me.

James frowned. Him and Matthew,
Old days, at the Rex–
He missed that;
No nickel now.
It seemed to James he’d catch Matt
Staring at him, almost sadly, from
Across the room, as if
He wished to play.
Once, Matt strolled up to him:
They’d skipped pebbles, briefly,
By the school.
“Your dad sleep?” Matt asked.
“Yep”–Tom read to him,
Before they went to bed.
“My dad,” Matthew said,
“I keep on hearing him at night
Out in the kitchen.
Walking, up and down.
He’s trying to be quiet,
So he don’t wake Ma.
But I hear him, though.”
James had said, “Oh.”

Pale mucus, in a stream
From Barker’s ear.
“Barker,”
YOU MAKE ME SICK.
           ME TOO.
IT MAKE YOU SICK?
          NO. YOU DO.
Darn! James flinched–
Now Miss Neal had seen them.
She hated signs: she’d
Ask if they were bad words that they
Signed–which, James admitted to himself,
They sometimes were.
Worse yet, lately
Barker did not smile, or try to
Win her favor, as he’d
Used to do:
He had grown tired.
And after her broad gestures
Brought no grins from him,
Miss Neal had soon forgot.
She let him be, and faced
The blackboard when she talked.
Alone with Barker,
James had brought this up.
He sensed a danger
In her put-off eyes–
Couldn’t Barker–well, make nice?
But Barker’d shrugged.
          SHE’LL DO WHAT SHE’LL DO.
Now, at this fatal moment,
Barker passed a note: “You Are
A Thorn In My Flesh,”
Tossed to James.
And Miss Neal saw!

“Land sakes,
Miz Neal!
A bee!”
From far in back,
A tenant girl had seen the teacher
Swooping down, and then devised
This clever trick–
“Bee! Bee!” Now nine or ten–
Rufe, Lyle, Ann–
Leapt from their desks,
And joined in flailing.
Miss Neal hated bees.
“There it is!
Right there,
Behind you!”
Miss Neal veered to smash bees–
James was saved!

“Bee! Bee!”,
Ella Jane kept shrieking, until
James could almost laugh–
Don’t Miss Neal know, those
Dobbs girls never spook?
He mouthed to Ella Jane:
Owe you one.
Barker gave thumbs up.
Her face a twisted,
Shrilling knot,
She nodded.

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4 Responses to “208. In Class: Alliance”

  1. Kaki Warner Says:

    This stuff is addictive. I drop by for a short visit and end up reading for half an hour and then some. I’m utterly amazed by your writing. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. Grad Says:

    Love it! I’ll have to remember to shout “Bee Bee” next time I want to divert attention.

  3. Gene Says:

    Oh, I know about that addictive quality. I started on this site soon after it went up, and I’ve been a dedicated follower since. I eagerly read the poem of the day every morning before work. I always want to know what happens next!

  4. sshaver Says:

    I carried the above comments over to the welcome page and have responded there.

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