Brad Aaron Modlin

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Brad Aaron Modlin received an MFA from Bowling Green State University and a PhD from Ohio University. He is the author of Everyone at This Party Has Two Names (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2016), winner of the Cowles Poetry Book Prize. Brad Aaron Modlin is the Reynolds Endowed Chair of Creative Writing & a professor at University of Nebraska, Kearney, where he teaches undergraduates & grad students, coordinates the visiting writers series, & keeps "healthy" snacks in his office filing cabinet. Giving in-person readings, he remembers comfortable shoes. On Zoom, he's barefoot. Source

 

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What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade

Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen

to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,

 

how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer. She took

questions on how not to feel lost in the dark

 

After lunch she distributed worksheets

that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s

 

voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep

without feeling you had forgotten to do something else—

 

something important—and how to believe

the house you wake in is your home. This prompted

 

Mrs. Nelson to draw a chalkboard diagram detailing

how to chant the Psalms during cigarette breaks,

 

and how not to squirm for sound when your own thoughts

are all you hear; also, that you have enough.

 

The English lesson was that I am

is a complete sentence.

 

And just before the afternoon bell, she made the math equation

look easy. The one that proves that hundreds of questions,

 

and feeling cold, and all those nights spent looking

for whatever it was you lost, and one person

 

add up to something.

Published:

2016

Length:

Regular

Literary Movements:

Contemporary

Anthology Years:

2024

Themes:

Education & Learning

Humor & Satire

Literary Devices:

Anaphora

a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences

Couplets

two lines of verse, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme, that form a unit

Hyperbole

exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally

Interrupted Clause

a word group (a statement, question, or exclamation) that interrupts the flow of a sentence and is usually set off by commas, dashes, or parentheses