poetry by j matthew waters

this is only a test

they say there’s an open book test afterwards
taken in a room full of empty school desks
geometrically formed like a military cemetery

you’re the first one to sit down
and soon thereafter
every person you ever knew
fill the remaining seats one by one

true or false when you were twelve your mother
made you smoke a cigarette in front of her
and afterwards warned you ‘never again’

multiple choice was your first fish caught
from the banks of the mississippi
a cat or a smallmouth bass or a bluegill

it’s okay if you don’t remember
it’s all ancient history by now
like bill & monica or romeo & juliet or adam & eve

this test has no time limit
and the clock on the wall has no hands
and those winged creatures walking back & forth
between the endless aisles
haven’t anything better to do
while waiting for their number to be called

with each wrong answer you’re beginning to wonder
what the consequences could possibly be

I mean will they cast you back & make you start all over

april two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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