Why I Never Had Children

My twenty-year-old, work-study helper
Tries for weeks to converse with me
While I do all in my professorial power
To burden his tongue

Three hours of pinning up flyers on campus bulletin boards
Two days pouring through medieval potions in the university library
Four half-days removing staples from old class handouts
And equal time pressing fresh tabs into file folders

I check each task and sign his time card Friday morning
Wish him the oblivion of drinking I enjoyed at twenty
Yet that afternoon, he returns
Lurking like Poe’s crazy raven at my door

There is nothing for him to copy or staple
I have no pizza to feed him
The janitors are pushing their huge brooms down the hall
So I invite him into my office

Let him sit sideways from me at my messy desk
Grant him an hour at minimum wage to share his terrible truths

Kae Chatman is a queer poet, veteran, and former university professor. Born in New York City and raised in Arkansas, Kae holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wichita State University, and an MA and PhD in Philosophy from Kansas University. She has taught at Philander Smith College and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, among others. Kae has poems published or forthcoming in Lavender Review, Salvation South, NonBinary Review, Sage Cigarettes, and Hallaren Literary Magazine. She still lives in Arkansas with her wife and beautiful dachshund.

See more of Kae's work in 12.1

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