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Learning to Curse

October 9, 2009

by Ann E. Michael

Regaining breath, he
undoubles slowly
his back to the schoolyard’s
chainlink fence, too
surprised to swear.
His enemy’s grinned
with the cruel fear
of boys and skimmed
off with his pals
down alleyways
their crowing still
lodged in his gut—
slurs he could not refute
with his fists. Half-crawls
to the spot by the tetherball
pole where they collect
at recess and retches
up his humiliation,
wipes his hot face
with his damp wrist,
heads home with
each breath new
in his raw
throat, muttering
shit shit shit
to the five o’clock
suburban sidewalk.

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Ann E. Michael (website) is a poet, essayist, librettist and educator who lives in Eastern Pennsylvania. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College and is a rostered Artist-in-Education with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals and in newspapers, family magazines, poetry anthologies, educational and academic publications as well as on radio. Her chapbooks of poems include More than Shelter (Spire Press), The Minor Fauna (Finishing Line Press), and Small Things Rise and Go (FootHills Publishing).

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