Tuesday, June 21, 2022

JACKASS by S.F. Wright

Don’t draw
Attention
To yourself;
At least
Pretend like
You’re doing work—
And I won’t
Bother you.

None of us
Wants to be here;
Let’s just
Make it bearable.

But
There’s always
One.

As I was
Lecturing to
20 mostly
Catatonic
Teenagers, 
Vaguely
Appreciatory of
The few who
At least feigned
To pay attention—
What do I hear?
A video playing
On someone’s phone—
This person 
Not even using
Earphones,
But playing
The video’s audio
Through the phone’s
Speakers,
No doubt thinking
That because
He was in
The back,
I wouldn’t
Hear.

Granted,
Earphones
Are prohibited,
But this kid
Was in the corner;
He could’ve 
Put on his right
Earphone,
Which I would
Have pretended
Not to have seen.

All of his classmates
Have figured this out;
Why couldn’t he?

I paused,
Stared at the back row,
Said,
What am I hearing?

No answer.

I waited another
Beat,
The video
Still playing faintly,
And then I said that
If I didn’t hear
Whosever phone that was
Turned off right now,
Everyone would have
To move
Their seats
To the front
(I let them
Sit in the back:
That way,
They are
Far from me,
I am far
From them).

A second later,
The video
Turned off.

My annoyance
Subsided,
I went back to 
Affecting to lecture,
Most of
My students returned
To staring
Into oblivion,
The courteous few
Resumed
Pretending
To pay attention.




S.F. Wright lives and teaches in New Jersey. His work has appeared in Hobart, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and Elm Leaves Journal, among other places. His short story collection, The English Teacher, is forthcoming from Cerasus Poetry, and his website is sfwrightwriter.com.

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