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).

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.

All of a Sudden

He’s resurrected!
it’s truly a marigold.
But you know what?
It’s this very kind of
garden-variety entendre
that I’ve been meaning to avoid here,
amongst all the sordid
ne’er-do-well activity
that seems to define our times
all of a sudden.

Wasn’t integrity of character
ever something to strive toward?
Maybe not in this system of
checks [cashed] and balances [slashed].

Though perhaps I’m as guilty
as any other layabout milquetoast out there,
lounging around the house
sipping my pink lemonade martinis
(my live-in mixologist’s proprietary recipe)
and grousing like one of my commoner counterparts.

Figuring It Out

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

Well, another day, another dollar. Aren’t I just the greatest thing that ever existed? The peak of existence, I tells ya. Yeah, see. I’m just so great… well, maybe. Or maybe I’m just full of shit.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

Well, don’t you know it, a woman with a stroller is getting on the bus. Is this going to fuck up my routine, my rhythm? What the hell, she’s taking forever!

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

But her face is strained, she looks tired. The kid isn’t really paying attention to anything that’s happening, and this poor lady is just trying to figure out how to get to her destination without completely losing it.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

This mother is doing everything she can! Look at her, taking the bus on her own with a big-ass stroller that’s taking up way more space than she would care to take up in the first place.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

I make brief eye contact with her and we exchange knowing glances, even though I know absolutely nothing (first-hand) about being a mother or providing for a family. Even being a woman, for that matter.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

I get a look at the kid in the stroller, their eyes darting around to see the new sights, soaking them in like a sponge. Inquisitive. Colors everywhere. Information streaming in that may never leave.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

We lock eyes. I grin from ear to ear. He/she/they smile back, and keep the eye contact going. I have to look away after a couple seconds, for fear of other people noticing this interaction with a small child.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

I think that this person could be a leader, a future president. I don’t want to spoil their innocence by selfishly avoiding their gaze. Their innocence can only stretch so far in the face of cynicism. I put my hand in the air and wave.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

I look at the time, and it turns out that I’m going to make it to work without delay anyway. All that worrying, all the hand-wringing for things that were ultimately out of my control.

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

Where is this kid going, anyway? What are they going to want to do with their life? They obviously have a mom who wants the best for them. These are all things that probably won’t be reckoned with for some years (hopefully, if ever).

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

Was I like that bright-eyed kid on the bus when my mom was taking me to work with her on my days off from school? Hopping on the blue line and talking about the little things we noticed on the platform and in the tunnel? Were there older people on the train making that same kind of eye contact with me? Did they avoid my gaze after a couple of seconds?

Don’t fuck up, don’t be late, don’t make people hate you.

Here’s my stop. One last glance at the mother and child is enough to charge me up for work, to give me that one last pause before I have to deal with the deluge of humans who may or may not know what’s good for them. But hey, we’re all figuring it out in our own time.

Bug Nuts

Today marks the first [and very overdue] public eulogy for Bug Nuts Bogdanovich, our champion in countless conspiracies to take over the world at large.

His first name was actually Larry (Lawrence Milton), but nobody bothered to call him that once he’d begun his studies in undergrad. You see, he was constantly running around from place to place, appearing to be perpetually late for an appointment, while in reality he was always early. His main concern was to make sure that he didn’t get distracted along the way.

It’s a sad sight when a person who’s perpetually early is always rushing around in addition to that particular quirk. They can’t stop to smell the roses or anything. They’re just frenetic, losing small pieces of their humanity along the way, as achievement after achievement just whizzes by, a parade of accolades that really mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. I see it as his way of compensating for validations that he may not have received earlier in life. Or perhaps he’d gotten too much recognition and it developed a pattern of addictive behavior to continue seeking that high.

Who knows… he never let anyone into his inner life [enough] to see what really made him tick, so it’s all conjecture now. What his cohorts and loved ones do know is just how much work he took on all the time. People were naturally drawn to him, even though he kept everyone at arm’s length. That’s precisely what gave him an alluring aura. “If only he would take the time to get to know us better, maybe we could see what kind of a person he truly is! As it stands, he could be a really nice guy, a serial killer, both, neither… frustrating.”

The moniker “Bug Nuts” stemmed from the one time he actually let his hair down (metaphorically–he would never allow himself to get bogged down in matters of extreme grooming, it would be such a waste of time in his eyes). He went to his dearest friend Beatrice’s little birthday gathering for a couple hours, actually imbibing spirits and taking down his defenses for once. If there had been more people gathered there at that time, he more than likely would have withdrawn into his introvert’s shell and waited it out while occasionally making pained eye contact with Bea.

But since he did feel comfortable enough to be more of himself around these people (he got a “Goldilocks Zone” vibe off of them), he found himself embroiled in an entertaining conversation about insects. He fancied himself an amateur entomologist (among his other passions), and he was really getting fired up about dung beetles of all species. Bea, having witnessed several minutes of unbroken bug talk, exclaimed “hey wow, look at Bug Nuts Bogdanovich over here!”, and the rest is history.

I don’t claim to have known this man very well at all, but from the few fleeting moments we spent with one another, I felt it was my duty and privilege to give him a respectable send-off into the great blue yonder with a laugh or two.

So here’s to you, Mr. Bogdanovich. Beetles love you more than you will know. Whoa whoa whoa.

Consideration

I have come to more thoroughly understand
being a man in the context of the great
regret machinations of our time
[a sensation not unlike finishing
the stinking shawarma you left out
that one time then decided to eat
because your fatigue caused a lack of interest
in unwritten expiration date consideration],
and have chosen to fish away my days
in lakes, rivers, ponds and streams, where

you absorb
the skeletons all around you,

croon
to the bluegills
while they inspect your lure

[the sun
grinning at your little boat],

your red
ears naturally aglow.

Water
striders dot the scene,
checking for proper surface tension
(it’s like they don’t know about physics
and the evolution that specifically adapted them
to traveling in a manner that will never not be useful
in our particular iteration of the universe).