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i.m. Tony Priest

To the teacher who drank,

thank you. As children, we never knew.

Your care was that of a father.

 

You taught me to umpire

rounders; spared me the bowling, hitting,

running, taunting of other kids.

 

For the ghost stories, too,

before home time, thank you. How often

back then I was safe but afraid.

 

I learned a few years back

you’d died: drowned by alcohol, and sad.

I hope someone – your sibilant

 

wife, perhaps – was with you,

at the end. That death, like your stories,

was short, and not too frightening.