Poetry 2011 / Volume 42

Boxy Poem for Mr. Beck — Paul Hostovsky

Mr. Beck taught gym and sex education
back when there wasn’t a curriculum per
se. So he mostly punted in the classroom,
relating blow-by-blow what he and his wife
had done the night before. It was x-rated
and educational. You had to hand it to him
for thinking outside the box that was our
classroom; the box that was our high school;
the box that was our life in small town USA.
In gym we all did fifty pushups while Beck
walked among us, shirtless, like a gardener
coaxing a crop of callisthenic chrysanthemums
pushing up. He praised the virtue of the pushup,
said you could do them anywhere, anytime.
He said he did them all the time in his office
between classes, in his bedroom between sex
with his wife, and for all he knew he would
be doing pushups in his coffin after he died.
We could tell just by looking at his pecs that
he wasn’t bullshitting us. For all he knew we
didn’t love Mr. Beck. But we dearly believed him.

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