One day in health class, Mr. Ferguson
bolts to the window, looks down, yells
“Yo, Sammy, howya doin’?” Face
hanging out from third floor into clear
spring air, yelling back and forth
as we twist in our chairs. Then he’s
back. “I graduated high school with that
guy. He works construction now, makes
twice as much as me, never went to
college or nuthin’.” Mr. F. was a Gold
Glove fighter, got kayoed by Doug Jones
who lost a split decision to Muhammad
Ali when he was still Cassius Clay.
All semester we studied diseases, and
my desk mate Kugelman got all the
symptoms, hot flashes, chills, back pain,
sore throat, swollen glands, spots and
pocks and lumps until we studied heart
attacks and he collapsed from his desk
onto the floor gripping his chest and
hollering “Ahh, ahhh!” and Mr. F.
screams “Goddammit Kugelman, cut
the crap or I’m failing your skinny ass”
but he just gasps for breath and Mr. F.
ends up running down the hall,
Kugelman slumped semi-conscious in
his heavy arms to the principal’s office
and Kugelman is gone for two months.
Next year before we tell the sophomores
the tale, we learn that Mr. F. is gone,
replaced by Mr. Gluck, a vegan with a body
like a rubber band. Word is Mr. F. quit
teaching, got a job working construction.
Maybe Sammy put in a word, who knows?
Kugelman’s a new man, face cleared up,
got a girlfriend, stepping cool down the
halls, and though we whisper about his heart
attack among ourselves, even us witnesses
don’t clutch our chests when he goes by,
never shout “I’m dying!” to his face.
have anything to say about his poem, Steve Klepetar would be
pleased to hear from you.