The night he came to my 6th grade
Parent-teacher conference night
I was so proud
I showed him off like a new toy.

My dad is not like the other dads.
He has never worn polos in Easter egg colors,
My dad collected skulls,
and plays guitars in bars,
and sometimes when they can’t find a babysitter,
I get to go and read my book
on the couch backstage.
The other kids in my class
probably don’t even know what “backstage” is.

I showed him this list of books I read
in the hallways and how I have read more
than anyone else in the class.
He asked me if it was all escapist
reading. I said yes.
I did not know what escapist meant,
but I had figured out when reading books
that if you just pretend you know the word, you usually
figure it out what it means by what else is going on
in the story.

When he sits down
opposite my teacher, his tie
looks silly compared to us,
a briefcase in a room full of gig bags.
Mr. Sandrock  says I am very smart
but have trouble focusing and sometimes
I steal things from the other kids.
Little things, just books and pencils.

Mr. Sandrock says I never ask for help
even though I am not doing well in most of my classes.
My worst subject is math.
Mr Sandrock looks right at me
and says why do you think that is,

Before I can answer,
My dad says She’s just lazy.
She showed me that chart
in the hallway.
She says it’s all escapist literature.
Just don’t let her
get away with that shit.
She’ll catch up.

Somewhere inside me
a door closes.

In the car ride home I clutch my progress report
like a trophy:
Social Studies: C-
English: B+
Math: F

My Dad does not speak,
but he thinks I’m smart.
It’s all up to me now.
I just have to be better.




CaptureClementine von Radics lives in Portland, Oregon with three cats, one puppy, and six roommates. She has Rheumatoid Arthritis, a lot of tattoos, and a beautiful sister.  In 2012, Clementine founded Where Are You Press, a publishing house that focuses on the voices of young artists. She is the author of two collections of poetry, Home and As Often As Miracles.

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