Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 45
Summer solstice, 2022

Featured artwork, Page Blue, by Güliz Mutlu

New Works

John Dorroh

A School Mix


Mary Jane Blalock taught me Algebra I. She had Mediterranean skin and jet black hair that she wore shoulder length. The ends curled up toward heaven.

One Monday she didn't come to school. Mr. Guin, an old man who kept bricks in his back pocket to help him from falling forward, was her substitute. His hair was white. His skin was white. There was a lot of dandruff on his black coat and tie.

It was a crucial time in algebra. Seems that every day in algebra is crucial. Such a linear discipline. Don't go to Square 2 until you understand Square 1. Factoring polynomials. Anyway, we were stuck with Mr. Guin for a while.

I listened to what he had to say about the topic. He seemed to know his stuff. Even though my classmates were rude, he ignored it, as if it hadn't happened. Maybe he'd seen a lot of action in foreign conflict and nothing bothered him. Maybe he just didn't care about anything. But for some strange reason, I picked up on factoring polynomials and aced the test. When Janet Blalock returned, she gave me an innocent kiss of the cheek.


Mrs. Schmidt, the art teacher, was having an affair with Mr. Jennings, the assistant principal. Everyone knew it and gave them their privacy. Their cars took bay at opposite ends of the faculty parking lot an hour before the first bell.

I made a bet with my friends that I could manage to secure videos or pictures of them doing whatever it was that they did two mornings a week. My key to the school (another story) finally had a purpose. The schematics of the buildings allowed me to guess where they might have their nest. Afraid to breathe, I hid and waited close to their makeshift bed.

There was fondling and giggling; partial undressing and penetration. Shelves rattled; glass jars broke on the linoleum. I forgot to take pictures.


Mr. Ruffin was in love with the student teacher. We could tell by his latest poetry that he read aloud every Friday. We felt bad for his wife, and for Marsha, that he was behaving so badly. But who were we to confront an adult?

When my father died in January, Paul Ruffin and Marsha came into my bedroom where I was lying on my bed, avoiding the crowd of people in the house who'd dropped by to pay their respects and bring fried chicken and casseroles.

"Here," he said, handing me a book of poetry. "This might help. I wanted you to know that we are thinking about you. You should write about your feelings when the dust settles. You might find some inspiration in this book." Marsha grabbed my hand and squeezed.

"Thanks," I said. "Are you in it?"

"Yes, page 47." He patted my leg and said not to worry about my school work. "Marsha can tutor you to help you catch up. She's really good at that."

John Dorroh's father instilled three basic life directives: (1) Spend a lot of money on your tires. (2) Spend a lot of money on your mattress. (3) Spend a lot of money of your shoes. "Do these things," he said, "and you will live a long, prosperous life."