Like Wildfire

Figurine damage indication is just one of the important areas [here at Gareth Laboratories] where I’ve made myself indispensable. I’ve trained 54 associates–and counting–to specialize in the sixteen elements that directly contribute to the continuation of our great institution. I’ve created a simple mnemonic device for them: HOME SMELLS FUNNY P. I’m not very good with anagrams, so that last P is just kind of sticking out there to the side. But that doesn’t matter very much to me, because it serves as a reminder of the absurd penguin amendment to the corporate charter that Lance’s nephew added as a joke (but then ironically caught on like wildfire when I unknowingly passed out invitations to the zoo’s new special penguin house later that afternoon). Coincidences sure are a bitch.

Yes, And

Improvisation without representation is definitely authorized in this club, though I don’t quite know how it’s supposed to be accomplished (at least without some corporeal manifestation hanging around on this mechanical rotating clothes rack we call the universe).

First off, you’re supposed to “yes, and” the opposition into submission as often as possible, which typically would require a physical body in space and time. However, perhaps a physical body needn’t be required if we piped a nice [tinny] audio stream into the room as the live interaction winds itself down.

But that all goes without stating the obvious: if the instigator of improvisational inquiry has no chunky terrestrial body of which to speak, then why should the foil of the piece remain a solid entity? That just puts the burden on them, don’t you see? Having all of those internal organs thinly covered by what’s basically just a fleshy layer of napkins (and not the two-ply kind)… it’s dangerous! I won’t stand for reckless endangerment in the name of creativity.

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–

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).

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.