For Good Reason

Preach vigilance
to the ever-ladder-climbing individuals
who deem personal and professional progress
a product of constant social manipulation–always.

Standstills may seem intoxicating
every once in a while
to the few who always rush around everywhere,
and for good reason!

Nothing but pep in your step
and constant “progress”
makes for a dull type of existence–
no room to misstep and fall
(or even sidestep and plateau).

We’ve all become acquainted with these folks–
always on the lookout
for something that offends,
imposition rather than inspiration.
These are the dodgeworthy people,
the dilettantes at the way station
between sanity and clarity.

Crotch

Precisely between pages 182 and 183
of a battered, overused
elementary school Spanish textbook
on the neighborhood Indianapolis Goodwill’s
hardcover books shelf, you’ll find
a perfectly-preserved eyelash
wedged in the crotch of the binding,

once attached to the heavy eyelid
of Jacob Stern, a third grader
with no real foreign language aptitude,
any sense of which would have been lost
while sitting in the back row of Spanish class
during Sr. Cerasoli’s Wednesday morning lecture
extolling the virtues of ser and estar,
a class period that felt
like it could last forever, though
certainly not in infamy (until old Jake
dropped his eyelash and roped us
into this entire absurd narrative).

Gregory Poke

A tortoise–let’s call it Gregory Poke–
peeps its head out from inside its shell
in an effort to feel alive,
truly alive, for the first time in weeks
(maybe months).

Gregory doesn’t quite know what to do next.
There are no predators to be seen
for hundreds of yards in every direction. Wait,
there are no predators here. How many times
does Greg have to remind itself of that?

And will it ever get over the affliction
of constantly referring to itself
in the third person? The answer may never arrive,
as this writer can only use 100 words. Howev–

Smoke and Mirrors

Troubled psychiatrists
around the world
have increasingly turned to iodine
for lack of anything better to recommend.

This simple palliative
sure has brightened the lives
of countless patients, whether or not
they’re actually doing anything
for their brain chemistries.

Rather than causing a stir
by playing the tired smoke and mirrors
game of “Is This a Placebo or Not?”,
doctors everywhere are prescribing Vitamin I,
that heaviest of stable halogens.

Its deep violet hue promotes a sense of mystery
in 74% of test patients, creating
more of a positive psychological effect
than any old placebo ever could.

Tea Time

A dinghy
in the middle of
this patriot’s sketchbook

provides a pure rendition
of what our ancestors
had once believed to be
a savior of some kind.

According to our current science,
the dinghy no longer ranks
among the ideal species
to be considered a deity,

but belief systems
have changed significantly
since that epoch. A list
of acceptable deities
may be found outside my office,

though not before tea time
(I despise holding class
before tea time).

Goofball

Oh come now, there are multiple reasons
why you shouldn’t screw in a lightbulb that way.
Primarily, you’ll shatter its fragile exterior
and gouge your hand,
smearing precious blood all over your clothing.

That tunic you bought at the Sears yesterday (don’t ask how I know)
will be absolutely ruined. The fourteen dollars you spent
will be for naught. I know you don’t see that
as your perfect (or even preferred) scenario, so
stop acting like a goofball and listen to me
when I teach you how to do something.
Do you want a repeat of the zombie survival drills?
Didn’t think so.

Chin Up

A piddly little posy of pansies
left the station an hour ago
(off to Cleveland of all places),
running late. All alone,
the colorful collective thinks
to itself, “I should have had
a better breakfast.” A freight train
is no place for a flower
to be lollygagging around, fretting
about its appetite and desperate need
for sun rays, but that’s neither here nor there
at the moment. This bundle has an agenda,
and time is of the essence.

There’s no window in the car,
just that played-out open sliding door (the one
that may have Woody Guthrie’s initials
carved into it, whether by a fanatic,
the legend himself, or
just some schmo with the initials “WG”).

The posy, steeped in darkness, wonders
if it can gather the strength to flit
over to that certain patch of light
(the one there always seems to be),
when a breeze picks it up
and slaps it against the door,
just inches from being jettisoned.

A crash landing
in this stretch of rural Pennsylvania
would almost certainly mean a grisly death
at the hooves of the local Holstein population.
But now is no time to panic. Anxiety
will get you nowhere
in the face of a looming deadline
and quarterly financial report presentation.
Chin up, fair posy. We’re not giving up on you yet.