Friday, February 24, 2012

Paolo and Francesca

A history teacher took a novel approach
to dealing with a student who fell asleep in class:
he licked the student’s ear.
            --from a news story

That day we read no further.
           --Canto V, Circle 2: The Inferno

Don’t fall asleep in Mr. Henry’s class.
He’ll lick your ear clean
with unblinking eyes and feline agility.
He teaches history for pay,
tongues ear wax for free.
He brings mystic lore from home,
Egyptian magic and talismans,
voluptuous lapping and a mysterious
sense of propriety.

Perhaps it was the waning moon
eaten away by field mice
that prompted Mr. Henry to arch his back
and purr while he licked that ear.

But someone did not like
Mr. Henry’s skulking as the mythic
cat of the classroom.
The school board found him indiscreet;
the students found it peculiar
that their classmate remained
in a passionate embrace with Morpheus
on the dark forests of a history text.
A small pool of spit
drowned the other lesson of the day.


“Paolo and Francesca” was originally published by Thorntree Press in Troika IV.

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