Daniel M. Shapiro
Archibald Meets a College Representative at Archibald’s High School
Dressed in a black-and-white striped shirt,
his face painted petrified wan, he eases
into Room 52 to greet a shocked suit.
Archibald, finally realizing his error,
curses the similarities of words, of letters.
There is no Colorado School of Mimes.
Unprepared to discuss his merits to dig
safely, to prevent all from caving in,
he tugs an invisible rope to exit the box.
Archibald the Student
In class Archibald
would hide behind
a book, decapitated by
a book. He did not hide
gum chewing, love notes, cigarettes.
He hid the journey, where pages
take you when you stare at them
so long that words move in opposite
directions. Letters follow letters
like ants infesting.
Classmates would look into
Archibald’s eyes afterward,
would consider him shifty,
would make out reverse marks
that made no sense to them,
sickened by the flight of image.
Archibald the Teacher
Archibald sits at the desk
listening to his students
in another room, in the gym.
He listens to them through an air vent,
hearing the cheers, wondering why
they sound so happy with the gym teacher.
Maybe if we throw balls at each other,
we can have more fun with science,
he decides. Learning should be fun.
The next day, everyone
throws balls at everyone. Beakers
break. Bunsen burners burn.
Archibald loses yet another job.
Mid-mayhem, a cloud of chemicals
forms over the school. Containing
the cure for all ills, it soon dissipates.
Archibald Practices for His Death
Planning not to know when
it will happen, he sews together
a montage: that first time he fell,
the kiss crash of braces on braces.
Jobs spill into jobs, grocery clerk
to teacher to street cleaner.
He watches that balloon
disappear in the Iowa sky,
gazes into the eyes of Rosanna,
her face memorable enough
never to be yellowed. Music
by Ennio Morricone imagined,
having slain Volontés and Fondas,
he straddles the horse for Point B,
unable to shake sentiment from dust.
Daniel M. Shapiro is a schoolteacher who lives in Pittsburgh. He is the author of the chapbooks Trading Fours (Pudding House Press, forthcoming) and Teeth Underneath (FootHills Publishing), and he is the co-author of Interruptions (Pecan Grove Press, 2011), a collection of collaborations with Jessy Randall. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Gargoyle, Chiron Review, Oyez Review, and Forklift, Ohio. His poetry website is Little Myths.