A gift card was given to me,
It was alive not with spending power but with literature,
The concept was familiar but I would have to spend the last cent,
in order to understand it’s true worth, or its lack their of.
The first of these purchased things was The Catcher and the Rye.
I found to be a great test… of my tolerance.
Such a protagonist was too obnoxious and too cynical
for his own sake or mine.
So I read to the fifth page and then sold it for $2 at Strand.
My guidance counselor enrolled me into AP literature by accident.
I was pissed, who wants to do work during their senior year?
I missed the first hundred pages of Crime and Punishment.
The class would finish it in two weeks.
So, I read it as often as humans do breath,
on the train, in bed, at the bus stop, at lunch, and in my sleep.
I can still see the horse being beaten outside my window.
I was at the top of my class with the lowest results on the practice Exams.
I asked, "what’s the point of taking an exam that your bound to fail?"
My teacher shrugged her shoulders and said, "what do you want me to do?
So, I took the test out of guilt, $60 dollars later I failed.
I failed. I succeeded in being accepted, to a writing group, I failed.
We met every Wednesday in Barnes and Nobles, Tribeca.
I was excited, l was disappointed;
to mentally be in the same place I was trying to physically escape; High School.
With each week, my writing had turned to shit.
The table at which we sat, melted the styles of our writing.
I was gone' to concerned about what the others would say.
What would they say Ms. Barnard and her uni-brow,
Ms. Wellesley- the blond girl who giggles at everything, everything.
and Ms. Berkley University; another girl who didn't grasp the concept of grooming.
Indeed, we were a nerd convention.
Ms. Wellesley asks, "where are you going Donnee?"
I am put on the spot. Fordham, City College, Hunter...
Instead I say, "Bronx Community College."
should I explain? Give that speech I do after I say that statement?
Nah. Besides, they found my replacement, and yes its another black girl.
Ms. Berkley says, Who knew Emily Dickinson was so exuberant, they laugh.
I connect their uni-brows, and sip my free Café Americano. Sigh.
The following week I would not show up to be witness
to judgments, to looks towards my arm, to write, to this.
I already came up with an excuse in my head; I have a job.
Fuck literature. I like Art and Music, do you?
Yes, I do. Who is that playing?
I love Norah Jones
do you have her new album?
I’ll get it for you.
And so I spent my last cent of my gift card at Barnes and Nobles, Tribecca,
on something other than myself and other than Literature.