My Brief Life as a Dean
Night One: a man beats his child in the parking lot.
I phone the police, an ambulance, child protective services, our security guards.
Night Two: across the street, gang-bangers shoot a man as he stands on his lawn.
I phone the police, lock down campus.
Night Three: a SWAT team raids the house where last night’s murder occurred.
I phone security, lock down campus.
Night Four: a bleeding victim careens into our parking lot.
His bullet-shattered windshield disintegrates. I phone the police.
Night Five: the F.B.I. and Gang Task Force arrest three men
near the student center, search my hallway for hidden guns.
December: Eight shots kill a running man outside the campus garage.
I phone the police, lock down campus, shake half the night.
February: a toxic lab sickens 26 people, including the instructor.
I phone security, order ambulances, yellow tape the classroom and hall.
March: a student is assaulted in a restroom by two men who hold a knife to his throat,
steal his wallet, threaten to kill his entire family if he calls the police.
April: I am diagnosed with PTSD, put on medical leave, prescribed Valium and Lexapro.
May: my supervisor still refuses to alter my work schedule.
June 30: I submit a letter of resignation,
box my belongings, turn in their keys.
Gangbangers execute each other
in broad daylight. Blood splatters
neighborhood lawns, ambushed cars.
After nightfall, raids and retaliation
spray bullets across a broken community,
leave additional scores to settle, more shattered lives.
In my school office, I monitor the security radio,
avoid windows, hide behind a solid wood desk.
My ulcer gnaws as violence escalates.
Within this war-zone, helicopters patrol overhead.
Daily, the body count rises. Poetry is in lockdown.