34 (one for the team)

We are all children here—against the wall

of the gymnasium—smelling of fat,

waiting for our turns, bellied with futures.

Nobody knows how and we're all afraid

of the principal, who doesn't love us,

who prefers the other group of children,

who waves us to the foul line, the ashes,

and gives us our punishments, one by one.

We know better than to cry or complain

and stand like the nurse tells us, lips sutured,

wondering if we're really that bad.

As best we can, chest out, heads straight and tall,

shaking from the shower of gasoline,

we strike the match, and take one for the team.


forthchoming in KGB Lit