Matt Morris: Off to ‘Nam, That’s Where

marathonlitreview —  June 30, 2015 — Leave a comment

the aptly named Mr. Straight,
high school principal
for the unofficial yet
actual war said I was
bound when he caught me
smoking behind the gym. Once
Red shrapnel took off
half my head, he’d guarantee–
grabbing me by my shoulder-
length Jesus-esque mop
& marching me to his office—
guarantee, he said
again, sitting me down hard,
I’d learn to appreciate
Mrs. Brown’s anal-
ysis of Paradise Lost
without my 2¢.
The X’s that were my eyes
lifted from the government
issued drug abuse
pamphlets he threw in my lap
as he leaned across
his desk, the sweaty crescent
moons of his short sleeve’s armpits
cleaving to his fat,
blood rushing to his jowls, horns
of salt & pepper
hair sprouting from his temples.
Clean-cut with my shirttail tucked
in, he swore, wagging
a sausage-y finger, is
how I’d return home . . .
Pausing, he added with a snort:
inside a box. Since he lacked
the authority,
he lamented, to ship me
overseas, I’d have
to pick up trash after school
instead, which should give me time
to consider how
lucky I was to be born
in America.
His face shook like Tricky Dick,
whose portrait hung on the wall.
Then off to History
where I interrupted class
slouching in a few
minutes late, having just stepped
out for a quick cigarette.


Matt Morris’ poetry has appeared in various magazines and anthologies, for which he’s received five Pushcart nominations as well as a recent nomination for Best of the Web. His first book, Nearing Narcoma, won the 2003 Main Street Rag Poetry Award. Since then, Pudding House has published both of his chapbooks, Here’s How and Greatest Hits. He currently lives on what remains of a farm in West Virginia with his pet wombat Sonny.

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