I scare a kid by sitting at her table,
and I hear you when I think at her
get out, you high school cafeteria geek.
She leaves. To her I must look like
some old weirdo-beware-movie freak.
I just want coffee now, just like
I wanted coffee then, and to be alone,
when a different kid, some gay high school geek,
waited a week of mornings outside my door
when I was a teacher before he curled
his knuckle and made his wet knock. Your friends,
those green and yellow pills, wiped years
of yellow topic sentences off the green board
and turned the yearbooks gray, but failed
to unbang his gun or roll his eyes back down,
so I can only praise how surly you brush
backpack past me now, you impossible
high school geek, as my hands cup my coffee
cup in a concentric shudder, praise how you taught
me why I must and why I can’t
stand on this table and tell them all
I love you, you beautiful high school geeks.
Eric Howard is a magazine editor who lives in Los Angeles. His poems have appeared in Birmingham Poetry Review, Caveat Lector, Conduit, Gulf Stream Magazine, Hawaii Pacific Review, Plainsong, and The Sun.