Tonight’s theme is: you are a baby nihilist.
Tonight even the polyester curtains are an opiate
worth banning. I’m a terrible student, victim
of harrowing perfectionism mixed with remnants
of crazy-legged wonder. Not to mention
inelegance. My renegade professor’s mistakes
are declared genius by an academy composed
of countless lake flies and a sinister duffel bag.
If this is the library, then I’m the only one
doing the shelving, which is fine. I know enough
numbers to enter the right bus with shoulders
thrown back like he taught me: This is your
mean walk, this is your into-a-lake walk
which ends in unspeakable tragedy. Save
the lake bottom for other rocks. Don’t let
anyone walk through your body, little cadet.
But the best way to learn is to disobey.
And that was the first thing he ever taught me.
Mary Biddinger’s most recent book is O Holy Insurgency (Black Lawrence Press, 2012). Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Barrelhouse, Bat City Review, Blackbird, Crazyhorse, Crab Orchard Review, Forklift, Ohio, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, Redivider, and Quarterly West, among others. She teaches literature and poetry writing at The University of Akron, where she edits Barn Owl Review, the Akron Series in Poetry, and the Akron Series in Contemporary Poetics.