He stood up from his desk and yelled,
_____“Nasty-ass bitch motherfucker!”
when I told him to leave,
perhaps mistaking my
nervous, shocked smile
for mocking
when he thrusted his hands into my chest
on his way out the door,
as if my classroom were the courts,
and we had just finished fighting
over a loose ball.

It must’ve been instinctive for me
to wrap my arms around him,
and squeeze just enough
so he didn’t hurt himself,
or me,
because I knew no one at home
ever did.

_____Even though for a moment,
_____I wanted to break his ribs!
_____Snap them in half
_____because his ghetto-born-and-bred guts
_____were too big
_____for his 14-year-old body.

And when I asked him,
“If I let you go,
are you going to hit me?”
and he replied,
“I just want you to let me go,”
I let him go…

The staff assistant called out
some of my students to write down statements.
On their way out they said,
“Don’t worry.
We got your back.”

I wrote down my statement which wasn’t
a poem,
but surreal non-fiction.

And I felt kind of guilty after security found him
hiding in the bathroom.
Maybe I could’ve ignored his apathy,
let his attitude slide.

Because kids like that
are too easy to find.
_____They always motherfuckin’ are.

Pushed, artwork by Chris Hendren

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Daniel Romo’s work appears or is forthcoming in Gargoyle, the Los Angeles Review, MiPOesias, Yemassee, and elsewhere. His first book of poetry, Romancing Gravity, is forthcoming from Pecan Grove Press. His second book of poetry, When Kerosene’s Involved, is forthcoming from Black Coffee Press. He teaches creative writing and lives in Long Beach, CA. More of his writing can be found at danielromo.wordpress.com.

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Christopher Coffey makes his home in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A longtime resident of the Midwest, Christopher graduated with a degree in art from St. Olaf College. That was a long time ago he hasn’t come too far since then. He hopes to grow up some day and become a real person with a webpage. But for now he mostly wishes he was anything that he is not.

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