Poetry in a Pennsylvania Classroom

Chandler’s poem about a gold chain
is a sinker on a fishing line
in the classroom where fluorescent
lights suck smoke out of my lungs.
Smoke that I inhaled 20 years ago
is falling out of my mouth,
it is smearing the chalk on the board.
This smoke has been lodged behind my voice box.
I turn the lights off and barbed wire appears,
it cuts my desk in half and stops me
from telling Chandler that I don’t know
what to do about the man in Wyoming who got fired
for being gay—we can’t stop being gay.
After class I buy apples from an Amish stand
on Rt. 11 and feel silenced.
God regurgitated the batch of apples
I brought home to my wife.
She made me a pie.

Nicole Santalucia teaches English and creative writing at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania and teaches poetry in the Cumberland County Prison during the summer. Her first full-length collection of poetry, Because I Did Not Die (Bordighera Press), is forthcoming. Her work has appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, and Bayou Magazine, among other places.
*Photo courtesy of Nikita No Komment.
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