Prompted to Madness

Still awed by your prowess
in the three-ring circus of education;
You will ever be
lion-tamer, trapeze artist and juggler:
are your spinning plates
and you do it amazingly well.

Teaching middle schoolers
was something I thought I could do
until that eighth year
when waves of nausea assaulted me
the closer I got to the school parking lot
every morning after intolerable nights:
waking up in cold sweats at 2 a.m,
breaking down over nothing,
trying and failing to love my enemies . . .

It felt like standing on that bridge;
The Scream by Munch—
ongoing, endlessly repeating
in slow motion, relentless.

How do you not become disgusted
depressed, cynical and dismissive
of the unfunny clown show
as the suited specters approach?



write a poem in which you first recall someone you used to know closely but are no longer in touch with, then a job you used to have but no longer do, and then a piece of art that you saw once and that has stuck with you over time. Finally, close the poem with an unanswerable question.

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