Times Tables Champ

‘Basic’ was a hard word to weave into a poem — did anybody else out there have a go at it? I kept coming back to one memory from when I was 9. That memory still stings, so I wrote about that.

Times Tables Champ

Every Friday afternoon was our Times Tables competition,
we stood in twos up the front,
there was always a pause before the teacher called the sum.
I hoped for a basic one,
tens and elevens were best —
my mouth could shout the answer
before my head had heard the sum.
(Fives were good too, but I never liked eights much.)

One Friday I beat the reigning champ.
When I sat down
someone behind me muttered
“You’re not the true champ,
you’ve only won once.”

Rebecca Newman 2014