Michael Shewmaker


We learn to practice memory by chanting
the answers, shouting first to win, by ranting
against arithmetic that leaves us scratching
our heads. The numbers never change. The same
signs flash within the cards’ exhausted frames.
Addition or subtraction, this child’s game
is always played by unrelenting rules.

So what is it about these certain schools
that begs us learn and not become the fools
of yet another generation? What
voice carries in these long halls? And who shuts
the doors behind us?

                                        We are never taught
to question time’s ugly eye: that strict teacher
shuffling her cards above our desks. We fear
our dumb stammers before the withheld answer.