Doug May


Listen to the audio version read by Sean Mahoney.

it was hard
for me to
directions or
solve problems
on paper
unless the kid
in the next row
let me cheat,
then when they
caught me
sometimes I'd
go crazy
and smash their
pearl beads and
jars of finger paint
before the angry
grownups decided
I belonged where
mixed up
front and back
and thought
big meant old
and small meant
and it felt safe there
with no clock
on the wall
and facefuls
of sticky blue stars
until the doctor

with tobacco breath
told them I wasn't
that kind of special
just a kid with
short attention span
and a brain that
worked a little
and made sure
I passed from
gradeto grade
like a secret or a
runny nose
pretending I
the words and
numbers zooming
past my brain
Some day people
would let me
cross the street
without a mother's
liver-spotted hand
to cool my hot
forehead with
pink milk from a
medicine bottle
or hold back traffic
after school
let out.

* * *


Listen to the audio version read by Sean Mahoney.

I learned a new word
for the fog
on my windshield
this morning
and it filled
a lopsided chimney
with singing birds
(but five minutes later
I forgot what the
muffled echo
in the woodpile
meant and a rocket
on the 5th of July
trailed ladders
of orange peonies
through a moon's
reflected disc)


Doug May has worked many entry-level and unskilled jobs, from proofreader to delivery driver to food server and home health worker. Besides writing poetry, he draws and plays the piano. He has adult ADD as well as below average IQ, but was blessed to receive a lot of tutoring and special help growing up. He has published in Beloit Poetry Journal, Cream City Review and North Dakota Quarterly and most recently in Breath and Shadow: A Disability Journal (winter 2017).