One of those 1:30 am poems that burgeon from a random phrase entering your head. You try to ignore the phrase and focus on sleep, but the phrase seems to gain importance as you repeat it, and you know you won’t remember it in the morning. You sigh, turn on your bedside lamp, and grab a notebook — decorating the lines above and below the phrase until you have a poem and only five remaining hours before your alarm goes off.
My first image is that of a professor,
Teaching kids in a playroom, not a classroom,
While you look on with admiration,
A die from Risk in your sinister hand.
‘How do you tell a true war story?’
I ask my students,
Already knowing the answer,
Which makes this rhetorical:
You don’t, you write your own fiction
To fill in the blank in your heart or brain,
Because nothing’s fair in love or war.
Kind of like the die itself — roll once,
And there’s only you; roll more and
Find yourself multiplied in five
Other manifestations, more dots
And weaker constellations. I think
The North Star is mainly a trick
Of the mind, like Venus, a beacon
Of love veiled in the fabric of lust.
A funny thing about lust —
Its anagram is basically a synonym
For a false war story, the protagonist
Of which sells himself short in battle
To fictionalize an image of love,
When the true love lives outside
The soldier’s text in memory
That can’t be defeated, yet manages
To mark itself “present”
In a classroom that is not a playroom.