John Dorroh

Lesson Plans: Riptide (i.)

Always due on Thursday like blood draw.
Names checked off in M I L I T A R Y precision.
I write tiny nasty notes under “Daily Objective(s)”
to make sure someone’s reading. I never receive

Monday. Students are putty. They do anything
I ask. But without gusto. Week-ends are serious
work for young learners. They challenge waves
and hang out at the beach.  No homework.
Torture myself? Pleeeeease. Pick your poison.

Cafeteria duty at 7:00. Cattle call for breakfast.
Cold corn flakes in little wax/cardboard boxes.
Sugar water with colored dyes and the essence
of fruit. White milk and chocolate. Trading wampum:
Facsimile egg McMuffin for cinnamon swirl in cellophane
wrapper. Industrial food stuffs. One half-ass attempt
at offering something hot: pancakes and link sausages.
Shanille tells Taylor that they look like his dick.

Activity period. Channel One news. Teen-driven
propaganda. Buy Nike shoes to stand a chance
at being cool. The calm before the storm. Heads down
like useless buoyies. Strong currents, rip tides carry
bodies parallel to the shore. Not sure if my lifeguard
skills can save them.

1st Period Biology. Required course. Basic swimming.
Darlene reminds me that she ain’t cuttin’ up no frog.
She’d rather take a 0. I remind her that there are options.
Like dissection on the computer. “Aw, Lawd….I’m so sick
of computers,” she says. I tell her that I sympathize. She
tells me that no one died.

3rd Period Chemistry. Elective. Intermediate swimmers.
Proclivity to deeper surf. Jake informs me that today’s
surfboards are constructed of polyurethane or poly-
styrene, covered with layers of fiberglass cloth, and
polyester or epoxyresin. His Uncle Bill died in Ohau
on the North Shore when a board hit him in the head.

5th Period Biostatistics, a mini-course for students
who love numbers and really deep water. Dr. Box
likes to brag about courses his school offers that expand
horizons. Advanced swimmers venture out too far
sometimes they never come back. Life preservers
are required but you can’t enforce what you don’t see.

Bus duty. The Spanish teacher and I sniff bus fumes
for 25 minutes every day after school. It loosens up
our neck muscles after a stressful day at the beach.
A free buzz. Hopefully the fuel is lead-free.

Staff meeting. He might as well be using a bull
horn. Minutes tick away slowly like molasses.
Could have sent us a memo but he likes to hear
himself talk. He reminds us for the third time
that lesson plans are not optional.

© John Dorroh

John Dorroh may have been born with a pen in his hand. He wrote his first poem on the bathroom wall with his mom’s red lipstick. He graduated to letter-writing to over 100 pen pals from over 40 countries. His poetry has appeared in about 85-90 journals, including Feral, Selcouth Station, and North Dakota Quarterly. He also writes short fiction and the occasional rant.

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