Rap Sheet – by Lyman Grant

Once again the end of the semester.
The final essays tumble in like drunks
and whores in the police precinct
on Saturday night. They sit on my desk
waiting to learn what they are guilty
of this time. Delinquency, loitering,
indecent exposure, causing a disturbance,
assaulting my intelligence? I handle
my docket efficiently and dispassionately.
Most get off with warnings and credit
for time served. But always there are two
who cause concern, worry, scholastic
perturbation: the polite shoddy essay,
feigning perplexity, pleading forgiveness
for losing track of time—it won’t happen
again, promises, promises, again, again;
and the insolent essay, full of vigorous
invective at the restrictive assignment
and unimaginative grading standards,
the brilliant complaint artfully composed
in frightful dissipation. And so,
as always, I sit in judgment, my red
pen poised and prayers upon my lips.
Who, this time, by grace? And why?

Lyman GrantLyman Grant is an expat Texan living in the Shenandoah Valley. He has published widely in small journals and anthologies. His most recent books, to be published later in 2023 are “Symptom and Desire: New and Selected Poems” and “ostrica,” a collection of golden shovel poems.