Solid Geometry book

Sold Geometry Lesson

The solid geometry teacher was late
and the class was getting unruly,
paper planes and spitballs
were flying around the room.
Behind me two students played poker,
and asked me to join in the action.
No, but I'll show you a card trick,
baffling them with "The Three Queens".
"Do it again", they pleaded
and as I made my false shuffle,
a sudden silence—
Mr. Reuper walked into the class,
his frock of white hair and beady blue eyes
quickly scanned the disshelved room of debris
like a giant bald eagle hunting for its prey—
suddenly he swooped the cards from my hands
as though it were his catch for the day.
Now like an angry lion, he roared:
"One Big Demerit for playing cards in class!"
as he flipped through the Atttendance Book
to enter a black mark under my name.
"But the cards are not mine— I was just—"
Ignoring my pleas, the beast continued
his attack: "I thought you were a fine student,
but you are just a cardshark, a riverboat gambler!
New York State Regents Exam is just a month away
and if we don't cover all the theorems in the book
you're not going to pass, that'll be your lesson!"
But I had already learned my first lesson
in humiliation and tried to redeem my honor.
During that final month, I studied geometry
like an infantry commander planning for battle
by covering every inch of the hilly terrain,
so I solved all the problems in my textbook
until cubes cylinders spheres ellipsoids
and conical sections became familiar friends
as would Descartes, founder of analytical geometry
who proclaimed that a perfect circle leads
to a perfect God. Yes—
practice makes perfect.
And miraculously I made a perfect score
in the Solid Geometry Exam that year—
the only 100% Regents score I ever achieved.

        — Peter Y. Chou
            Mountain View, 8-2-1987