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I keep falling asleep at my desk.
I do not want to go to class
to teach anymore.
This morning my daughter slept through her alarm.
We were late for school.
That’s what I want to do. Be late for school. Never go to school again.
Never pick up a book or an Expo marker again.

The world is too scary and the children don’t care.
They don’t care because of the bombs and the fear of bombs
and the germs and the fear of germs
and the president and the fear of the president.
There are not enough trees in their lives. Or,
there is not space in their day
for them to notice all the trees in their lives
and how mushrooms help the oak and maple survive
and how mushrooms heal humankind from drowning
even though humankind doesn’t give a shit about mycelium
until it’s too late.

I keep falling asleep at my desk in hopes that I might get fired.
The principal will come in, see me asleep, say:
Pack up your bags and leave the key on the floor.
But I did that already, and here I am again—in another school,
same bunch of kids,
same bunch of books,
same old grades,
not enough trees.

Later, when I wake up, I’ll walk into my classroom and say:
Hey kids, let’s go be with the trees.
They’ll all yell and scream and run for the door.
Some will jump from the windows.
All of them will immediately lose their minds
like the tanks are rolling down the street,
this thing they’ve waited for their whole lives—
the big bullets whizzing overhead
smashing their hearts to pieces.



Matthew Lippman is the author of six poetry collections. His latest, Mesmerizingly Sadly Beautiful (Four Way), received the 2018 Levis Prize. His next collection, We Are All Sleeping with Our Sneakers On, will be published by Four Way Books in 2024.




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