National Poetry Month — Day 14

Last week I led Tiny Beowulf’s cub scout den on their Roaring Laughter Adventure. Essentially, my job as the guest speaker was to help the boys understand the value of laughter, its benefits to our bodies and our well-being, which was not difficult. They were enthusiastic about it. We practiced tongue twisters and told jokes. The Adventure also called for fill-in-the-blank storytelling, and if that sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because it’s basically Mad Libs. I loved Mad Libs when I was a kid and even enjoyed them with my friends all the way through high school, and my own children love playing with them now.

Want to guess what Mad Libs with a room full of third grade boys sounds like? Imagine a liberal application of the words pee, poop, and butts.

Now to cleanse that image out of your minds, I’m going to share with you a truly excellent poem.

Lord help these little boys who love scatological humor grow up to be the mature men we are all glad to know, like the one this poem is spoken by, but definitely not about. “Athletic Director Greenshield Evaluates the New Hire” by Bryan Owens previously appeared in Grist and is reposted here with permission.




Athletic Director Greenshield Evaluates the New Hire


When the Lord fashioned the dick
like a magician revealing a wand with his fingertips,
He willingly filled eternity with creeps
and sent Coach Crandall to assist me with Phys Ed.
Crandall, who rolls out of bed in basketball shorts,
beams every day that he comes to work in basketball shorts,
comes to work with a bag of donuts for himself,
twirls keys on a lanyard around his finger and
swings the keys the other way when they hammer the knuckle.
I mean, we’re doing more than blowing our whistles here,
But Crandall with his monkey ears
likes to get in the mix with pubescent girls,
blocking shots or playing the elbow game on the soccer field—
and whenever I see him leaning coolly against a wall at lunch,
swarm of girls around as he twirls his whistle,
or when I hear the inside jokes he keeps like various little tops
spinning throughout the school, I think
Oh Coach Crandall you sorry douchebag!
And waves of cutis anserina spread across my back—
which means gooseflesh and is a question on the health final—
but that it feels like sprouting wings of resentment is not.
So when he is out of sight I shake my head & pray
what I used to pray for myself at his age, which is Lord
help this kid learn to go home gladly to his loneliness
so he can do his job.




Bryan Owens has been a teacher of English for nine years in the Houston public school system. He holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Houston. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in various publications including New Ohio Review, San Pedro River Review, Poetry Quarterly, Boston Poetry Magazine, Inscape, Primitive, The Centrifugal Eye & elsewhere.

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