Tale of a Substitute Algebra Teacher… / Brian Pilling


Tale of a Substitute Algebra Teacher with a Penchant for Poetry

poems by

Brian Pilling

ISBN: 978-1-59948-982-7, 40 pages, $13 (+ shipping)

Projected Release Date: November 2023

The Advance Discount price on this title has expired. For those who prefer to pay by check the price is $17/book (which includes shipping) and should be sent to: Main Street Rag, 4416 Shea Lane, Mint Hill, NC 28227.

PLEASE NOTE: Ordering in advance of the release date entitles the buyer to a discount. It does not mean the book will ship before the date posted above and the price only applies to copies ordered through the Main Street Rag Online Bookstore.

An author and a poet based in Cape Cod, Brian Pilling has been published in The Main Street Rag, The Berkshire Review, Cutbow Quarterly, Down In The Dirt, Missive Magazine, Contemporary Jo, New Pop Lit, Hidden Peak Press, and other literary journals. Brian’s previous chapbook, The Poet’s Struggle is published by Bottlecap Press. Brian is a recent winner in The Cape Cod Times poetry contest. His writing is inspired by his grandfather Germoglino Saggio—an immigrant poet of note, whose work is housed at the University of Minnesota.

In Brian Pilling’s tale of a substitute algebra teacher with a penchant for poetry, flickers of alternate consciousnesses glitter like discarded soda bottles, from Shop-Rite to Sicily and around again. These conjured tiny poems solve for the problem of surviving. ~Amy Goldmacher, Winner of the 2022 AWP Kurt Brown Prize in Creative Nonfiction


As a former substitute teacher myself, I can appreciate these works. Brian Pilling has an authentic view of humanity and the world. His writing is distinctive–which is the best compliment one can give any writer in this generic day and age. ~Karl Wenclas, Editor, New Pop Lit

tale of a substitute algebra teacher with a penchant for poetry


The non-descript figure narrating my life story is an imposter. He’ll likely abandon me for a bigger fiction.

No need for insults, defiantly showing me my childhood home; a split-level, a cookie-cutter stamped into the landscape.

See Dick run. Run Dick, run.

He claims to dine with the great poets of the past. He tells me I’ll have to be more black-crow, less common-sparrow.

He mocks me. He shows me avocado appliances, as ubiquitous as aprons and rolling pins, and soap operas, keeping your mother tethered to her black and white operas.

I argue my pain. My room was half-underground, its only view—the underside of prickly arborvitae. The hall bathroom walls were tiled from what could be salvaged—from railroad cars transiting the countryside, searching for post-war developments.



word problem: calculating the cost of yard sailing


A pimple faced teenager is rifling through boxes of books at his neighbor’s yard sale. He looks over his reading list for the upcoming school year.

Fahrenheit 451.

A woman in curlers haggles over the price of an old toaster oven. Momentarily distracted by the boy, she pulls the list from his hand. You won’t find those here. She returns the paper while wagging her other finger. Nothing you should be reading either, if I have anything to say about it. He quickly stuffs the list into his back pocket. You tell your mama I’m running for school board, and I’ll be counting on her vote.

To calculate the total cost of ignorance, knowing the temperature that paper burns, and the year the authoritarians met their match in an unhappy author, solve for Y. X being the number of pages multiplied by the number of years between publication and fire.



parent-teacher conference


Ms. Summer’s Home Economics classroom’s only window looks toward the past. On the teacher’s desk rests Eloise Smith’s mid-term project. A restaurant menu for snobs. The featured entrée: Hummingbird brains drizzled with a sauce reduced from French Chardonnay and white flour. Eloise’s mom and dad complain: “She deserved better than a C minus. Perhaps you haven’t acquired a taste for satire?” Miss Summer can only bite her tongue, noticing the Swiss chard stuck between the mister’s two front teeth.


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