Charles Wax

Gloomy Scenes Foreshadowing Commotions - Poem by Charles Wax

In 1968 I landed a job in Berriman JHS
thus keeping me out of Viet Nam
but if I faltered and got fired
I’d be there swatting flies and fleeing bullets.
My control wasn’t fabulous,
yet it existed, somewhat, at moments.
Melvin Smeld was another story.
He’d been relieved of his regular English program
when Ruth Kaufman returned from her bout with pneumonia
but as luck would have it
he landed a regular Science program
when Joseph Botts got pushed down a flight of stairs
and broke his left arm and right leg.
“How goes it? ” I asked.
“It’s rough, Bernstein, the kids don’t listen..”
“Did you call up any mothers? ”
“It doesn’t do any good.
I call up at night and the next day
they’re back to their old tricks again”
“Don’t give up, ” I said sternly,
“or you’re off to Viet Nam.”
Smeld stared at me, lips twitching
barely able to get the words out,
“Did you hear what happened? ”
“They killed all the fish. Gilmore.
Oh, you gotta watch him
put ink in the tank, water turned blue
then he strangled a goldfish
in the back of the room.
Assistant Principal Stein came in
and gave him hell, but it won’t help
next day he’ll be doing the same thing.”
“Sit him up front.”
Smeld stared at me quite hopeless
finally managing to mumble,
“Principal Foy says he’s fed up with me.”
And don’t you know
the next day a kid heaved a chair
out the window onto Foy’s sky blue Cadillac
smashing Smeld to smithereens.

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, May 5, 2013

Poem Edited: Monday, May 6, 2013

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