Ross Thompson

The Headmaster’s Office

Ross Thompson

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The writing pad, stitched into nosebleed red

leather, rests on a desk the size and heft

of a galleon. Curtains, headache green,

stand guard but shield their eyes from the sad scene

that passes for a hard day’s work. I hand

over the note: crisp, clean Basildon Bond;

my mother’s curled script, light blue like her eyes,

asking for time off school, ever polite.

The Head, so called because he has no heart,

regards it like a man checking for dirt

beneath his nails. Puffed up like a bullfrog

with a hernia, he shifts his weight, clocks

me with a dead-eyed stare, and coldly says,

“What did he die of, exactly?” The way

he e-nun-ci-ateseach last syllable

has the charm of an arsenic popsicle.

Each vein in my puny frame fills with snow.

“You may go,” he says, “and now you may go.”

I leave to swap one suit for another.

I return home to bury my brother.

Ross Thompson

Ross Thompson is a writer and English teacher from Bangor, County Down. His work has appeared in various publications, and he reads regularly at literary events across Northern Ireland. His pamphlet, 'Slumberland', was published by Pen Points Press in 2014. He most recently contributed three spoken word pieces to Happy Holidays by The Grand Gestures, a collective of Scottish musicians and artists. Ross is currently working on several poetry projects and is finishing his first novel.