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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Chase

Poem inspired by "Pipeline"

What I Learned in Public School Burned Stars into My Skin


If you carve into my body

& pluck out my organs

like a game of Operation

you will find each organ


with three simple words:

Buffalo Public Schools

like a stamp of approval

or disapproval

depending on who you talk to

I’m a byproduct of a system

that the world had given up on

at least it felt that way

in 8th grade

my history teacher once wrote

“World War 4”

on the chalkboard

it was an accident

when the hell did World War 3 happen?

was it during my lifetime?

anyway, I became obsessed

with thinking that there’s always

a great war happening

it just might not involve militaries

or machinery

rather sneaky wars creeping

into your skin & never leaving

& you’ll die

never knowing what killed you

I was a morbid kid

& vowed I would be killed

by smoke & drink

the devil you know, right?

my history teacher

lived across the street from me

in a big apartment building

full of drug dealers

& addicts that would go in

but would never come out

she had no curtains

& was fond of walking around naked

with the lights on

I would often see her hitting the bottle

then I would be blinded

by the eclipse of her body

it shined a light

on my puberty

& I’m probably still grasping that

she had a husband

who was never there

but when he was

they would always fight

it’s no wonder

she wrote the wrong war

on the chalkboard

she was living a different one

every night

I felt weird

learning about the pipeline

between my legs

while all this chaos

was happening

it’s no wonder

I associate intimacy

with wanting to help

a celestial body

just out of reach

that astronomy is unhealthy

but it has stuck with me

the stars that get lost

in the shuffle

the stars that get clogged

in pipes

there’s still brightness

you just gotta map all the darkness first


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