Stopgap

Chernicia and her loyal band of
roving youth choir administrators
saw no choice
other than to take up stopgap freelance work.

Due to a general malaise
and rapidly-growing apprehension
toward patronizing or participating in
the performing arts (the anti-exceptionalist
herd mentality showed absolutely no signs of
dissipation as professionals of all stripes
traversed the barren corporate landscape
(a hell to be wished upon no soul)), all hope
seemed lost on the fearful.

Interest in the once-alluring
middle and high school competitive circuit
had been waning steadily for a generation or so,
to the point where even the most stalwart
paper-shuffling masochists out there
had to admit they were licked.

In this devastating climate, Chernicia figured
that some places out there
must
still need to enlist the services
of highly-competent youth choir administrators.

They took an oath in front of the children,
for Christ’s sake!
They vowed, on bended knee,
to make themselves
available for freelance filing (and HR concerns)
at the drop of a hat, whenever duty may come calling.

So just like that, they picked up and left–
no matter what their guts happened to be
telling them (the group’s average duodenum
could paint you the idyllic picture
where they’d carved out a sort of haven
in this life of more uncertainty than trust).

Many tearful (and gut-wrenching) goodbyes
after they developed the steely resolve
to give up their past selves
(for the children, dammit),
the brave and intrepid band set out
on their first assignment: Gurnee, Illinois.

They never did look back.
And to this very day,
rental cars and hotel rooms
still serve as their only refuge
from the vast desert of abandoned office complexes.

C

I flew the coop; took on a couple extra feathers under the brim of my cap and another in the loop of my shoelace, passengers on a journey across the Midwest. My foot feather dropped off at the world’s largest ball of twine, satisfied to become a tourist’s quarry. The other two held on for dear life as the Great Plains beckoned me to continue my arbitrary geographical survey. Not until I reached the Rockies did they think about dislodging. As I rose ever higher to avoid the jagged peaks, I noticed a hesitation. Just when I thought they didn’t have the guts, both feathers dropped into the domain of a billy goat clan and I waved goodbye. Still soaring, I questioned my motives for the flight: why did I even agree to go this far, and shouldn’t I just turn around? Days of nonstop flight can wear on you, even in a dream. I cut my losses and headed back, amazed that I hadn’t lost my lucky cap.

LXXXII

You mustn’t forget the agony
plastered on willows
in the springtime revolution we call
The Footie Pajama Crocus Hauntings;

all suppositions lay ahead,
flagstones for tiptoeing meekly
through the mire of insipid boredom
and emerging relatively unscathed,

the only damage sustained
from a choked-up bat to the sternum,
enough to inspire song lyrics
lamenting the human condition.