The Last Exam

As James head sinks into the pillow,
arguments for and against
the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
collide with the story of the stock market crash,
the New Deal
and Japanese bombers descending on Pearl Harbor.

Dreams of post exam freedom give way to
Auger Beetles Swiss cheesing his fingernails,
as he clings to a crumbling crag.
The patch of summit he collapses on collapses.
Dragon scorpions swarm the cave prison
he drags his shattered limbs from.
They fasten him to the walls of a dungeon
with barbed wire. Every time
he makes grammatical and referencing errors,
razor ants steal muscle and sinew.
For the slightest vowel miscalculations
he’s force fed slimy bowel evacuations.

James is jarred awake by morning sunlight.
Cold sweat soaks his pyjamas.
After icy showers
he stops mistaking bathroom creepy crawlies
for auger beetles and dragon scorpions.
All morning he reads and contemplates
the final distillation of text book summaries.

Throughout the exam James transcends the focus

of a formula one race car driver.
The pens down order
strikes like a Japanese torpedo
in a merchant shipping lane.
The last time he felt such relief,
he lay exhausted on the beach,
after swimming from a capsized yacht.

 

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