Posted in Poetry

“Ms. M” – A Friction Poem

On Saturday, I had the privilege of hearing Alan Birkelbach speak at the Austin Poetry Society‘s November meeting. Alan, a former Texas Poet Laureate, read several of his enchanting, relatable poems, talked about his involvement with the Words of Preservation project, gave advice on the publishing industry, and led the audience in a short writing exercise– all in just over an hour. It was a great afternoon, packed full of inspiration.

The writing exercise was about what Alan called “friction poems.” We were given a list twenty well-known figures (both real and fictional) and twenty commonplace occupations. Our job was to place our famous character in a situation where they could not possibly exist and… see what happens. We had ten minutes to write.

Here’s what I came up with. (I’ll let you figure out which character and job I chose.)

“Ms. M.”

“Who are you?”
“Are you our sub?”
“Where’s Ms. Davis?”
“What’s your name?”
     “You may call me Ms. M,” she said.
She wore dark glasses
and a long flowing dress.
Her hair was wrapped in a scarf.
The students rolled their eyes and giggled.
They changed seats,
lied about their names,
threw paper balls at the fish tank
when her back was turned.
     “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” she said.
They ignored her.
She passed out worksheets
about subordinate clauses.
They drew pictures on them instead.
She asked for a volunteer
to read the daily poem.
They made fart noises
with their armpits.
     “I’m warning you,” she said.
Finally, when two boys who were
fighting over a juice box
made it explode orange liquid
all over her desk,
Ms. M. had had enough.
     “That’s it!” she cried. “BE. STILL.”
And then Ms. Medusa
     took off her sunglasses
          and let down her hair.

© Carie Juettner, 2017.

🙂 Happy Fall Break to all the teachers out there!

Author:

Carie Juettner is a middle school teacher and the author of The Ghostly Tales of New England and The Ghostly Tales of Austin in the Spooky America series by Arcadia Publishing. Her poems and short stories have appeared in publications such as Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things, the Texas Poetry Calendar, and Daily Science Fiction. Carie lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and pets. She was born on Halloween, and her favorite color is purple.

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