Knaves I Have Known

First, there was the second-grader,
Michael, who insisted on pulling
my hair and then cutting in line
at the drinking fountain every day
during recess. I had to sock him
in the stomach.

Of course, I got in trouble.
I have never felt bad that I did that.

Then, there was the fourth grade wiseacre,
who bragged so often about winning
the spelling contest but could never
remember my name. I forgot to bring
his Valentine to the class party,
and he whined to Miss Brockhart.

Of course, my teacher scolded me.
I still don’t spell well.

When the seventh grade terrorist
snapped my bra strap for the third time,
unhooking it and leaving me embarrassed
until the lunch bell rang, I told
a girlfriend, and we wrote a poem
about jerks with small brains.

My friend’s mother read it and called
my mom. I still write poems about jerks.

In high school, I asked the smartest
boy in math to the Sadies dance,
but he turned me down flat saying
something about me not being
pretty enough. When I hung up,
I cried my first cry caused by a boy.

I did not tell anyone.
I feel bad about that still.

During my last year of college,
a pretty good crop of young men
crossed my path and all seemed
vibrant and striving for more,
except one. I dated him,
but not for long.

All my girlfriends hated him.
I feel bad about that still.

The riffraff of knavery
in the beginning could not outweigh
the love for so many good men
until I met the man from Shanghai who
cornered me in the room on Jakobistrasse.
I fought back.

I did not speak of it.
I stopped caring after that.

Twenty years went by. I encountered
a new scurvy knave all wrapped
in friendship. I let him in.
He pecked away at my leathered
heart which bled freely again.
When he uncloaked, I wrote this poem.

I should call him out. Yes,
I feel pretty good about that sentiment.

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