States of Poetry 2017 - ACT | 'The Poetry Exam' by John Foulcher

The Poetry Exam

The hall begins to fill. The students sit.
She sets her papers neatly on the desk
and rolls the lines around her mouth, flits
from word to word, moves her lips. The rest

is left to memory. The tests are stacked
for passing out on perfect, icy lines
of tables set in single file, tables packed
away when half-right answers whine

and plead for one mark more. She’s worked
for this. She knows the poems like friends,
she’s been to bed with them, she’s heard
their true confessions, knows their ends.

The earth moves. She turns the paper, reads it all.
She tears it into tiny bits. She leaves the hall.

John Foulcher

John Foulcher

John Foulcher

John Foulcher has published ten books of poetry. The first was Light Pressure (Angus & Robertson, 1983); the most recent, a selection of the previous nine volumes, was 101 Poems (Pitt Street Poetry, 2015). His work has been published in magazines, newspapers, and anthologies for the past thirty-five years. In 2010 he was the Literature Board’s resident at the Keesing Studio in Paris; his book, The Sunset Assumption (Pitt Street Poetry, 2012), was a reflection on that experience. He is at present completing his next book, titled A Casual Penance. He has also been also a secondary school teacher in New South Wales, Victoria, and the ACT.