Other Poems by:

Mike McHone

Hardest Lesson to Lessen

on school campus
to no place imparticular.
Hauling $300.00 worth of textbooks on my back, like a damn mule.

There's a research paper I need to do for my World History class.
(Notice I said 'need' and not 'want'?)
Only 25 pages.
Only 25!
25 pages on the fucking Incas!

It shouldn't be too bad though . . . I'll just get rid of that nasty habit of having a life for a
little while . . .

I shake my head, and try to blow a smoke ring . . .


Past an old woman wearing a white blouse, sipping a mug, staring at an oak.

Past a young guy with peroxide hair reading a book.

Past a group of white boys, five in all, talking as if they came Straight Outta Compton.

A brunette is sitting on a bench looking through a folder. 
Hair - cascading down her shoulders like an amber waterfall. 
Skin - dark caramel. 
A t-shirt is plastered to her; hugging her, embracing her in a way that I would want to.
She seems like the kind of person you could just go up to and have a conversation about
In other words, she's beautiful . . .

I just wish I had the balls to say something like that to her.

The wind gets frantic. The sound of scattered leaves tousling along concrete and grass.
The shhhhh of treetops brushing together. Whipcrack snaps of the red, white, and blue on
a flag pole nearby.

The sky is gray.

I take in my last healthy breath of tar and nicotine and walk into the library.

Past giggling girls. 

Past some guy with a big mustache, wheezing. 

Past a painting of Christ. Him looking skyward. Sunreflection in his chocolate eyes. 

Past that
and down a row of books.

Bradbury. Burgess. Burroughs. Burrows. Buroughs.

Onward to a desk.

The graffiti; tattooed with pencil led upon wood. "Iron Maiden Rules", or so
someone thought. Someone "loves Mary", and apparently "So Does Your Dad."

I set my books to the side . . . Kind of like I do everyday . . .

I sit and daze out, look at the people walking past me, talking, talking, talking, talking
talking, about anything, everything, everyone, anyone, even though this is a library and
I've come here for a quiet place to study . . . (But who the fuck am I kidding, right?)

People shuffle by me. 

Girl worried about her grade point average. 
Guy smelling of pot. 
Older guy saying tuition will go up again next semster.

There's a class wandering around in there; students in a perfect line, like ants, listening to
the teacher Drone away. "Can anyone tell me when Copernicus formulated his
controversial theory?" No one answers. "Anyone?" No one answers. "Come on. You need
to know this. When did he formulate his theory?" No one answers. "Mr. Rudd?" A red
headed kid, looks at him. "Do you think you can actually stop day dreaming long enough
to answer my question?"

I rub my eyes, get up, and walk over to the poetry/short-fiction section. (You know, the
section that was trimmed recently so the library officials could make room for computers 
. . .)

I walk.

Abe, Barker, Eliot, Ginsburg, Kerouac, King, Nin, Poe, Tennyson, Whitman . . .

I pick up Whitman.

The Leaves of Grass

"Come on, you need to pay attention."

I walk back to my seat, past people, past windows, past seats, past shelves, past a sign

(My African-American History teacher is a white guy from Indiana.)

I open Whitman . . .
and read "When I Heard the Leanr'd Astronomer"
while the
in my mind builds, 
but for the words,
as people shuffle around me 
through doors 
and corridors 
this way and that
that way and this
in and out
out and in
in and out
and back again

Outside, the sun falls
and night blankets the world
with the stars twinkling over head

The clock ticks.

I decide not to go to class.

"I hope you realize this will be on a test someday."

I'm too busy learning. 
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