English 101 Section J at the Start of Monsoon Season
There are men who have been rickshaw drivers
so long they walk like men in high weeds
their prayers flat rocks thrown into the sky,
men who have compressed their brains so long
with brick loads their pleas are particles
of skull, rising hushedly as dust specks.
In my English 101 class one raining afternoon
the students pondered chip off the old block.
Your father is the block, I said,
and if you resemble him,
you are the chip.
And who wields the ax said the one
who came the furtherest. Tonight,
by bus, he will return to a village
water has expunged five times,
not even a blip on MSN,
and where his father points his chin
at a river primarily half full one day,
and primarily full the day after.
He will tell them there are words between words
and an assembly of meaning in riven wood.
It is not important to the idiom, I say.
Decide now if you are a chip off the old block,
please, and answer in complete sentences,
I am/am not a chip off the old block because…
Outside our windows a transformer blew,
flashed like a stealth bomb
and all the copybooks
fell into half darkness.
In the silence,
devoid of the usual
I could hear the outlandish dreams
of their fathers inside them
Dorie LaRue’s novel Resurrecting Virgil (Backwaters Press), won the Omaha Prize, and her second novel Learning Curves was a Kirkus Indie Select. Her poetry collections include The Private Frenzy (University of Nebraska) and Seeking the Monsters (New Spirit Press). A recipient of a Louisiana DOA Fellowship, a SRAC Fellowship, and four grants from LEH, she has published in Southern Review, American Poetry Review, Massachusetts Review and others. She graduated from ULL with a Ph.D. in American Lit, and teaches at LSU in Shreveport. In 2014 she taught ESL at IUBAT, Dhaka, Bangladesh.