He has been watching her
for weeks
for weeks.

Ruby smiles have fox teeth.

My facade walks one foot in front of me.
I crouch and loiter behind.
She makes me safe.

He claims
“more eye contact,
more smiles,
increasingly sexual.”
He croons he and she have a “relationship.”
He sighs, “Her classroom creates a bad
environment for young men.”

While, I planned lectures,
chalk dust under
my fingernails,
was she letting her
pointed tongue loll
on her lips, lollipop licks?

Slut. Slut. Slut.

I don’t think so.
Please. No.
Please. No.

The lesson to all
was a message unto him.
Prose analysis of the Lord’s Prayer.
Lead us not into temptation.
The serpent’s lithe body.
Undulations in that garden.
Its flickering tongue
tastes of pomegranate, of pears.

He mewls outside my door
calling her name
or is it mine?
dragging his claws
like chalk on my blackboard.

We are sore afraid.

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Schizophrenic”?

“Schizophrenic” grows from a disquieting personal experience in which a mentally ill student claimed sexual harassment. He twisted all my actions, all of my words, saw and heard through frantic misperception. Fortunately, his mother discovered him crying, heard his confession, and made it clear to all that his claim of harassment was completely trumped up, that her son was unbalanced, had in fact been fixated with me from the first day of class and had become increasingly obsessed. The situation was sad and terrifying; that I developed a poem out of it is the one mitigating factor…. Inspiration can come from places one would prefer not to go to, but as a writer, I vowed to make lemonade from lemons, and I’m now also recalling the experience in a stage play in its early stages. Double duty!

What poetic techniques did you use in “Schizophrenic”?

Recycling and reinventing are good things. The poem plays with all manner of doubleness, uses “schizophrenic” very loosely and in a politically incorrect way, but pushing boundaries is what poetry is all about! (And who/what exactly in the poem is schizophrenic?)

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