The only poem about highschool

by STEVIE HOWELL

 

 

I wasn’t even present. Why are you
so eager to revisit when all you could do by law was

wait. You were saying something—
it seemed important— 
there was something in my hands. Here I am
peeling a label off a bottle, slowly sliding
down bridge piling toward train tracks.
Thinking idly this scene, or another,
is the newspaper backdrop to
how teenagers die. We die of bad math.

In some ways everything’s as big or small as you make it
or is that controversial,
and in other ways size is incontrovertible. The problem is
we can’t rely on blame and myth simultaneously
--or can we?
I knew two dudes who, by summer, 
were about to be dads. Then weren’t about to be dads, 
just like that: a prince slayed his offspring.
It’s a low-key story told out of school. It’s reading the diary
of a dead girl. I knew more girls who took pills and slit their skin
than I didn’t. I knew more girls who starved themselves
or hurled till they buckled, who snapped like flags
and folded on angles
and were placed on the caskets of

Love. Here’s a Pop Quiz: 
What is the opposite of nostalgia?
Answer: Names etched in brass plaques, whatever
felt good for a nanosecond. The win  
is dead and I’ve arrived at

the in-the-body experience.
I’m over here, in the field, 
waving that flaccid hi
that says I see you, 
stay distant