School Lane


Smokers’ Lane goes back like a throat

between tonsil-trees and the church.

Branches, slick-black, prod my shadow;

lead them to me like jackals.


In corridors, they press me like bruises.

Still, they do not know me,
even after four slow years

where my silence and my clever pen

has rocked them senseless with laughter.

They see me and glitter with sovereigns

tight on their nicotine fingers.


Skirt-tugging, creamy thighs

spread on cracking walls—

Look at us!


collars skewed like dead birds,

cigarettes dripping, chapstick lips,

drunk at nine in the morning.

Uniformed, neat as an angel,

I pass their mucused laughter

and blush at the fall of my name.

Piercings clink on bad teeth.


Counting down—

three o’clock death knell,

the long walk home through the gate.

It’s like wading knee-deep in dogshit,

those scathing names—fucking swot—

stinking my clothes out for days.

I carry my words like secret friends

they would trample and burn in the lane.


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