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robert sward
"it's a gun"





Sara's got on earphones.
I make out Mariah Carey
singing "I want you,
I need you,
don't leave me"

Class begins.
"Okay, Sara," I say,
"tune her out."
"Never be alone at night,
if you're lonely, love will be there," Carey sings.

Student turns it up loud, then takes off the phones.

Marco, New Yorker,
walks in late,
begins yelling from his seat
at some guy at the door
who's shaking his fist,

but Marco isn't leaving,
he's staying put, and his friend,
clearly pissed, won't let up. "Mutha..."
waves and yells he's been robbed,
wants his money back,

"Yeah, right. Yeah, yeah. Uh huh"
What are we on about today? I've got this
lesson plan. I mark the guy late.
"Cool it, Marco, you're late again," I say.
I still don't know he's got a gun

"Let's talk about this outside,"
and the other kid disappears
and Marco steps outside
and I tell him to go home.
Actually, he's written this B+ essay

about "murder and bang bang,"
how home was a front stoop in Manhattan,
how he's here for his safety,
how he can't get used to "San-ty Cruz,"
he misses all that bad company.

"Teach," he says, "I'm not goin' home."

I'm pissed and he's telling me to cool it.
"You don't know what I got," he's saying.
He's right. I don't know. Then the police
are all around us; turns out
the room's barricaded. How did I know

Murder and bang bang. Mariah Carey singing
"It's a gun, it's a gun."

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