Dave Nielsen (Cincinnati University, USA)
I have never answered a question correctly
in my life, although in school
I kept raising my hand.
Each time I crossed my fingers and hoped
I was right. The capital of Russia.
The longest river in Belgium.
The family tree of Chilean President
Salvador Allende, in both directions.
Only when the teacher called on me
my heavy tongue fumbled
incomprehensibly. All I could do was shout
the names of famous cartoon figures:
Mickey Mouse or Wile E. Coyote;
sometimes large numbers
or different kinds of candy bars.
I felt an unbearable need
to be right, and so to every question
I raised my hand: the street where
Aleksandar Ristovic was born;
chapter and verse for the Lord’s betrayal;
the interior of a mitochondria.
For years I had one of those teachers
who never gave up, kept giving me chances,
and so I became the laughing stock
of the entire grade. Truth,
the young woman taught, is relative—
The Pink Panther, I screamed, Kit Kat.
And through the shrieks of the other children:
Five million six hundred and eight!
Dave Nielsen is from Salt Lake City, USA. He earned a master’s degree in English from Brigham Young University and is currently a PhD student in English at the University of Cincinnati. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Parnassus, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and other magazines.