Teacher by Michael H. Brownstein


After the letter came telling me I would be changing schools
due to low enrollment in the school where I had taught
a half dozen years–and liked–a lot, the eighth graders
an interesting bunch–I was sent downtown for my next assignment.

So here I am. My name is Michael Brownstein. They asked me
to come here. I stood next to a chair in the principal’s office.
I made a motion to sit down. I don’t care who you are,
he shouted. I jumped back a step. It’s my office
and you will sit down in my chair when I tell you you can.

This is the beginning of life in disarray. This is the start
of large security guards with baseball bats and huge hands.
This is where gym teachers throw out basketballs and get
out of the way, where teachers complain they have to teach.

And the principal walks down the hallways never, sits in his space
of mahogany wood (I made the students carry it in for me
from my home office. Check out the grain, the feel of smoothness.),
chairs with real leather stuffed with real down, and a bookcase
with trophies from when he was young. You don’t want to go there.

Michael H. BrownsteinMichael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, and The Pacific Review. He has nine chapbooks including I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012) and The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

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