Half my students don’t even have faces,
just numbers and the smell of meat
to identify them. Half will fail
and those that don’t won’t learn much,
anyway. Twenty-three of us share two
left wings, a wobbly desk, and an out-of-date
anthology of Prussian educational essays
compiled by Horace Mann. God help you
if you need to make copies. If only
we still had air raid drills, desks to hide
under. We do, but they’re inside us, a wasp
insisting you cower beneath the rules
and hope for the best. You can see it
in the faces my students don’t have: every test
is a treadmill stacked on another treadmill.
CL Bledsoe is the author of a dozen books, most recently the novel Man of Clay and the poetry collection Riceland.
Michael Gushue runs the nano-press Beothuk Books and is co-founder of Poetry Mutual/Vrzhu Press. His work appears online and in print, most recently in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, the Michigan Quarterly, and Gargoyle. His chapbooks are Gathering Down Women, Conrad, and Pachinko Mouth (from Plan B Press).