The Prophets

I was a bad child     
They told me so

and so it was   I stole
the candy bar
from Teacher’s desk                                                          

I etched   the bully’s
initials      into the new paint    
I fired the rifle   
****************inside     I rolled    

a boulder         onto the tracks     
I hucked rocks at highway drivers    
each time I cursed       an angel    

lost its wings so           I cursed and cursed

********and took the carving knife

********to my arm  

jesus rode by   on his high cross ­­­­­­­
********and slapped me   
********on the other cheek

****he had holes
****************in his hands

****************to reduce wind resistance

********Teacher took the broomstick    
to my knees        during mass    I ate the flesh                       

****************and swallowed   
********************************blood               it burned

my tongue          I wanted to flush

the bad out   I downed           
************************the dish of holy water
in which the Parishioners      dipped their fingers

********and came down   with the flu
********************************I wanted someone

********to see me         so I ran    

********around the classroom
************************during math and pushed     

************************everyone’s books

off the desks               

****************Teacher locked me

************************in the supply closet  

**************************************** with a life-sized model

of a man’s   

********skeleton and a paper
************************cutter with a blade 

************************big as my arm     

****************************************slices                of blue fell

****************************************through the fan blades   

************************in the ceiling vent   
********************************I could hear    the Other Children  

****************laughing across

************************the playground      I told god     

********************************************************to go fuck himself

I dared him     

************************to kill me I begged him     

************************************************to kill me

****************on the football field  

****************************************in front of the Other Boys    that


********would show them        


************************I lay     in the driveway and begged 


satan to take me                     


****************************************after I killed     


god my grandmother       
********************************died        I couldn’t cry


at the funeral because   

I was a bad child
They told me


********so it was     

************************I wore the wrong


********************************shirt to school            


********************************************************I wore the shirt with  


********************************sleeves that felt  


************************************************like two                       classy


************************dinner dresses     so


************************They made me change           

********************************************************before class

******************************** I smoked a joint   


behind the dumpster                                       the classroom       


****************************************************************went liquid    


************************I had to excuse myself                       I ran     


************************to the boys’ room to puke     I carved


an anarchy symbol        into my calf

********************************and dressed it     with black ink

I sold               crystal meth


******** to the Rich Kids       at Youth Group they    


took turns snorting it               

****************off their bibles       in the church basement 


I stared at the sky        for a long time      I fell  


********asleep in the grass


********I etched my new    name  into

the park bench     I lit the park


********restroom     on fire   The Cops


****************drove around


****************with spotlights          my Parents   



********wanted me home      I couldn’t go



home   I needed       to keep



Myself   separate          




I was a bad child


Derek Annis is the author of Neighborhood of Gray Houses (Lost Horse Press), the associate director of Willow Springs Books, and the manager of Lynx House Press’ Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry. Their poems have appeared in The Account, Colorado Review, Epiphany, The Gettysburg Review, The Missouri Review Online, Poet Lore, Spillway, and Third Coast, among others. 


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