Lunch Duty

by Barry Peters

What I know of her

cackling in the back row,

sassing the boy next to her,

absent, tardy, bathroom pass,

not doing any goddam work

and this is the easiest

history class in the history

of American education:

what I know of her

is that for one moment

each day, after escaping

the apartment,

the bus fights,

first-period algebra,

second-period biology,

third-period gym

she hunkers down alone

in a corner of the cafeteria

communing with some

XXtra Flamin’ Hot Cheetos,

oblivious to the orange

residue on her teeth,

smiling as she offers me

the open cellophane bag.


Barry Peters lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife, the writer Maureen Sherbondy. He teaches in Raleigh. Publications include The American Journal of Poetry, Best New Poets 2018, The National Poetry Review, Poetry East, and Rattle.

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