“Life Lesson,” by Andrew Urquhart

Apr 20th, 2024 | By | Category: Poetry

Mr Darwin, prickly and aged bachelor biology teacher
At a public school I will not name,
Stood lab-coated before a class of rowdy troglodytes each Friday,
Who mocked his every feature, every foible—he
Being the only specimen they ever cared to examine,
In honour of the namesake he claimed a distant ancestor (but actually, was not)
Mr Darwin, with uncharacteristic determination,
Resolved one fine and greening spring morning
To teach the class the Theory of
While he performed the drama of Survival of the Fittest on power point,
Eruditely pointing out the finer points with a pointer,
A strange and molasses-thick silence oozed into the room,
Broken only at an appropriate instant by breathy gasps of admiration.
Fleetingly overjoyed, Mr Darwin
Looked back to surely see his students transported,
Illumination shining from each shiny youthful face,
But saw, instead, the classmates leering as one,
At two moth-eaten, size-wise hideously mismatched stray dogs,
Eagerly and energetically copulating on the football field outside.
At the final stroke the alfresco inamorato on top turned
Its shaggy head towards the classroom,
Eyes crossed, tongue lolling from ugly slack-jawed snout,
And stared straight at Mr Darwin (no relation) as if to say:
‘Not on my watch, bub,’ with canine drawl
As laughter, uncontrolled and uncontrollable,
Exploded the crystal lesson of life to atoms.


Andrew Urquhart is originally from Glasgow, but has lived in the wild north of Scotland for most of his life now. He writes poems and stories in both English and Scots and has most recently had work published by Leopard Arts, and in the award nominated pamphlet, Mair Northern Nummers. His poetry has appeared in magazines and ezines such as Lallans, Poetry Scotland, Clarion, and Wee Sparrow Poetry.

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