Academic Mayhem

& Feline Foibles

by B.A. O’Connell

Academic Mayhem


On the board, clear calculations,

class attentive, exams looming.

Now a forest of troubled hands,

digits turning somersaults,

handspringing out the window.


In the lab, blue copper sulphate,

turning black, bubbling boiling.

Bunsen burners in rebellion,

flames of bloodred vermilion.

On petri dishes crystals crack.


Bio lab assistant fights specimens.

Plant stems grow humongous,

green fingers reaching upwards.

Dead mice, trailing entrails,

scurry midst jars of monohydrate.


The shortsighted Physics Prof. peers,

as the compass rose points westward.

Lenses dance along sunlit shelves.

Pendulums swing manically,

driving tuning forks to insanity.



A doctorate in poltergeist studies

is needed to solve academic worries.

Feline Foibles

In the College library

a black cat is walking silently

over an irreplaceable open tome.

A muddy trail of paw marks

the only sign of his visit.


In the President’s office

an array of silver trophies

strives for supremacy on the mantlepiece.

The black cat strolls along,

his tail flicking.

Cups, trays, salvers,

suffer a noisy fall.


In the student common room,

ping pong balls lay like idle atoms

The black cat, with a playful tap,

rolls them slowly, one by one,

hidden, lost, inaccessible

 under sofas, cupboards, chairs.


Innocently, the dusky feline 

listens, ears flicking to and fro,

to screams from the library,

expletives from the President’s office,

and uproar from the common room.


His long whiskers twitch in delight

Before he settles for the night

Sarah Das Gupta is an English Teacher from Cambridge, UK who has also lived and taught in India and Tanzania. Her work has been published in many magazines and anthologies from over 15 countries, including: US, UK, Canada, Australia, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Germany, Croatia and Romania.