My English Teacher – Michael Minassian

My English teacher was seven feet tall,
his pants and shirts stretched tight
over his frame, necktie the size of a surfboard;

when he spoke in class, the windows rattled:
“boys, you better read poetry,
not pornography,” advice he gleaned from

films he showed in the gym
after class, scratchy black and white
movies, donated by the national guard,

showing off-duty soldiers arriving
at a run-down roadhouse,
later being treated for some STD

while wrapped in straight jackets
and jabbed with needles
that reached into the next room.

No wonder I turned to riding in my car
along the back roads of New Jersey
reciting Shakespeare under my breath,

while my friends hung out the window
as we crossed the state line into New York,
where the drinking age was 18,

and no one checked ID if you lowered
your voice an octave or two,
and kept your eyes open for Ophelia

or the Wife of Bath, even once,
Lady Macbeth, we thought,
washing beer mugs behind the bar.

Version 2Michael Minassian is a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online magazine. His chapbooks include poetry: The Arboriculturist (2010); Chuncheon Journal (2019); and photography: Around the Bend (2017). For more information: