Ted Jonathan

To your head
from his hip,
Assistant Principal Carmody
would launch
a mid-knuckle-protruding fist.

Thirteen in junior high,
I looked 13.

Lots of boys
at that Bronx school
had already turned 16.
A hideous mosaic
from the bad to worst
of every race & ethnicity.

Closer to Nam or Riker’s
than they'd ever be to high school,
these gap-toothed man-boys
bopped around palming
no more than a single
small notebook.

Laughing in the hallway,
Paul Noonan got clipped—
bolted into the bathroom
& kicked down a stall.

Slipping out a fire exit,
Marvin Barnes got clipped—
mumbled, white motherfucker,
under his breath.

I got clipped—
no reason.
Stayed mum,
felt like passing out.
Scuffling in the cafeteria,
Valentine Rivera got clipped—
& cat-leapt
onto Carmody’s fat neck.

Trays, food & fists flew.
Some danced atop tables,
others got stomped.

Carmody over Valentine
by knockout.

Born and raised in the Bronx, TED JONATHAN currently lives in New Jersey. His latest poetry collection RUN was published by NYQ Books (2016).