Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2019  Vol. 18 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Escape Plans

Every August, I scan each new classroom for windows I could break.
Which hallways are more accessible. Then maybe how, later on
in the semester, I’ll start to notice the impulses of my own students.
Which ones are at-risk. Which ones I believe could kill me.
The answer is all of them. I don’t say I feel hunted or that I’ve been
ready for the worst. My students catch me staring
out the windows and I don’t tell them I’m looking for the thickest trees
for the widest width. Which ones could catch the most bullets.
How I imagine flipping up all the tables and chairs. What objects,
if any, are available for a blockade. There are days I can’t leave
my office when I have to. I force myself into the classroom anyway.
Take my chances. Students run in the halls and I freeze. Keys ready
after class, I can’t open doors fast enough. Every day is a protest
against someone who wants me dead. These bookshelves are my best
buffer. But I wouldn’t upturn my desk, wouldn’t make objects
into a shield or shell because that would be a mistake. I’ve thought
of everything. It’s a long drop down, but I would jump.  

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