Short, somewhat pudgy Barry Leonard looked like a marmot
Wearing a traditional plaid or pastel
Oxford short-sleeve over white tee-shirt,
Button at the neck remaining buttoned

Shoed not in penny loafers but adult-like black shoes
Over Argyle socks laid out by himself the night before,
Barry, expecting success in later life, kept
A little address book deep in his pants pocket
For the date of anyone’s birthday, to send them a card —
Whereas the boy had a commercial artist father at home
Seated in sleeveless undershirt before a rickety easel.
Neither junior higher respected the other

Over the telephone like sisters they gossiped about classmates.
For a week and a half the boy thought it clever,
Lowering his treble voice, aping an inspector,
Over the telephone to flush a householder
And inquire “Is your refrigerator running?”
And after the reply, to advise, “Well, you had better
Go after it, before it gets away.” One evening
The boy went too far: over unusually beating heart

He dialed a number found in the directory
And, a well-modulated young voice responding,
Asked “Is this Miss Parker? Miss Parker who teaches Biology
At Albert Sidney Johnson Junior High?” A nervous
Swallow later: “Yes? Well, Miss Parker, do me a favor
And go to Hell” — ineptly replacing the receiver,
Seeing the drained face, resolving at that moment
To no longer spend time with the second-best friend

Who taught him to play such a game. Soon the two
Stood together only on the playground during P. E.,
Playing no sport, abashed in a circle with other misfits.
But he always knew whose fault it was.