Valentine Cunningham Ate My Baby
“Valentine Cunningham ate my baby!” I scream
and throw my book to the floor.
The teacher places it back on the desk
and returns to the front of the class with rhetorical flourish.
“Russians all like forming lists,” says Igor.
“But don’t take my word, I’m new to criticism.”
The teacher claps, her eyes like spanking paddles.
I pretend to retch and almost choke on my fingers.
No, I do wish I was clever as Igor sometimes.
He continues: “Still, I like to structure lists,
and when I’m done I always post
my structured lists.” He smiles a knockout.
The turn to me, expectant. “Erm, touching reading
is all I can remember. Y’know, that chapter...”
“No!” they chorus. I know what’s coming next.
They grab their heaviest books, features blurring
like dense paragraphless prose after hours of reading,
and start to beat me until I fall from my seat.
“Touch this you dirty little worm,” they yell, my skull
yo-yoing on and off the floor. “Tell us
you like it!” “I like it!” “You like it?”
“I love it!” “Okay,” says teacher.
“Now open your textbooks at page 317:
“’Rainbows and Pots of Gold in Contemporary Literature.’”