Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 1
Autumn, 2010

Featured Excerpt

New Works

John Dermot Woods

Role Model

The secondary school's truancy officer is the most misnamed and miserable position available in the city civil service, and, because of the service that truancy officers are actually able to provide, one can only hold the position for a brief period of time unless he hopes to bring frustration and disappointment home to his family's dinner table every night. The unlikely, the all-too-likely, the infuriating, and the deadening are presented on his case list each morning, and, as he must earn his paycheck by confronting each of the concerns, he refuses to feel moved by any particular one of them. A friend of mine, who bravely held this position for almost two years, shared with me only one story from his time on the job, as it must have seemed remarkable compared to the other events that he witnessed. Moskowitz, a principal of a high school south of the harbor for many years, and an outspoken supporter of progressive educational policy throughout the city, after learning that a student whom he had personally mentored and he thought he had saved rarely attended school and was linked to various criminal activities, said that he had no choice but to expel the young man, who—just the previous year—had been a second team all-city point guard. Following the student's expulsion, Moskowitz declared that he finally had to do something that made a difference. After this bold proclamation, he returned to his office and shut the pebbled-glass-paneled door behind himself. They all listened compassionately to the sobs and then silence that came from his office, and, only when they opened the door hours later did they learn that what they had thought was crying was the principal choking on the rope with which he had hung himself.

John Dermot Woods is the author of The Complete Collection of People, Places & Things, and the forthcoming No One Told Me I Would Disappear (in collaboration with J.A. Tyler). He edits the arts quarterly Action,Yes and organizes the online reading series Apostrophe Cast.