The Ballad of Student X

In TJ he downed eight shots of mezcal, ate the worm.
Two prostitutes and a hellhound
Stole his skateboard and hundreds in cash,
Stabbed his friend, while he blacked out in a ditch.

His mother wired me five thousand to bail him out.
He’s an animal, a jackass, but he’s my student,
If he dies in a TJ prison, he’ll be on my conscience.

She said, “He got straight As and decent SATs.
Captain of the football team in Junior High.
After my divorce, he went through a bad patch.
Could’ve been All-American, he’s exceptional. Give him a break.”

He wrote from rehab, “I found God.”
A tweet from a half-way house, he saw Krishna
At a dude ranch, he shouted Allah on a mountain top.

He cried for salvation, world peace and love.
Some 12-step blather, don’t believe a word of it.

Spring break-
He smashed into a tuk-tuk in Changmai,
Maimed an old pedestrian in Puket.
Plied them with cash,
No questions asked.

“Can you give me an incomplete and comment on my poems?
There’s one about my grandmother who died of Covid.”
We shared a virtual hug, teared up on Zoom.

Next week, he drove his Beemer off a cliff.
Lucky, he landed on a giant banyan tree,
“Got away without a scratch.”

Instagrams of Frat parties, sake bombs at Yuki’s,
Arms around bronzed girls in bikinis and sunsets.

“Please, Professor, two more days,
I’m blogging about MLK, writing an opus.
Hand-rolling Maui Wowie
For social justice.”

Last week, he came to me in a dream
Dressed for Mortal Kombat, lizard green.
After decapitating a jihadist
And three cleaver-wielding ghouls,

He emerged from a flaming school bus
Showered and shaved.

How we heal this nation, I do not know.
Primal sins erupt through tortured souls.

He graduated with his brothers, Magna cum laude,
Chanting “Liberté, égalité, fraternité! Or death!”

Marilyn Chin