J. Archer Avary

                              Tunnel of Insults

the new kid at school came from Texas
he dropped in mid-year via parachute
unfamiliar with the complex social dynamic
of Mrs. Holdren’s third grade classroom

everyday was lord of the flies at recess
he was different so they made him a target
desperate to win friends and influence people
the new kid went along with their games

the hardest one was the tunnel of insults
the object was to climb the rungs of a ladder
while withstanding terrible verbal abuse
how did third graders know such vile words?

the new kid entered the tunnel: ‘asshole!’
as he climbed the rungs the insults worsened
‘fuck your mama!’ they said ‘eat shit and die!’
he was invincible, words couldn’t hurt him

the other kids tried hard to turn him back
‘shit your pants!’ they shouted ‘cocksucker!’
insult after insult, the new kid climbed higher
until he made it to the penultimate rung

no other third grader had made it this far
it was time for the mother of all insults
‘fuck your mama’s cunt with a shit dildo!’
he just laughed as he emerged from the tunnel

the other kids viewed him with new respect
‘is that the best you motherfuckers can do?’
he smiled and cracked his knuckles
knowing that he'd fit in at his new school

J. Archer Avary, Under the Bleachers, January, 2021.