We sweated and dozed like barbarians
In a deer-hide tent at the height of spring’s
Roasting heat, crowded in for various
Affronts, crimes, and faults. When one among us

Was handed, from the disciplinarian’s
Office, a pink paper slip, listing things
He’d done that were deemed truly nefarious
(To us hilarious) and to say he was

Expelled altogether from school, he heaved
The heavy 1950s stapler from
Our minder’s desk and hammered the paper
To his head. The first two staples rebounded

And clicked on the tiles. We were almost relieved
When the third clinched, pressed deeper by his thumb,
And seized subcutaneous hold. This caper
Did it: We were, for once, astounded.

With the form draped over one eye, he smiled
For us, turning slowly in the humidity,
A satanic clown, our own Spartacus
For a sparkling second we won’t forget.

We roared and roared in our hot galley, piled
Up laughs till they hid any stab of pity.
We all knew he wouldn’t even be missed
As, clutched by the wrist, he loosed one last threat

And was hauled from the room and the door boomed
Shut. We never saw him again. One by one,
We turned our faces downward and resumed,
With the dust he’d raised churning in the sun.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 29 Number 1, on page 28
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