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.

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).

Wooden Spoons

Double up the foundation dust,
trouble finding lurky lust while wincing
under beveled falls; egregious
concertina riffs agree with Wes
(our father’s postman): the passion
never does leave the feet.

Snowcapped griffins found asylums
rich in iron, poor in aprons.
Mythology holds no place
in institutions of higher psychology.

Where reprimands come for assurance,
our collective mothers grease their wooden spoons.
We may only marvel as to which grease traps
were harvested for such a folksy purpose.

You insist that I have a soul for dingers,
I retort that your trout lost its diaper yesterday.
You ask what that means, and while
seething in your stupor, I quip
“which radishes peak first?
Why, only the early growers, son.”

——

First draft posted on 6/11/11,
originally entitled #10

CIV

Equal parts snickering and jibbering, flouncing and denouncing, partying and Martying and sipping and tipping have led us to this culminating moment, and this revelatory juncture alone will fix us up with the karmic indifference we should inevitably come to view as necessary, should we ever put on roller skates and glide down the lakeshore on the manmade path designed for smooth wheeled transport (nothing more, nothing less). That day will come only when we’ve reached the conclusion that our soul clarity is above average, and yadda yadda yadda, here’s some more hippy dippy rhetoric to be restricted to only eight select individuals on the planet, each division roughly the equivalent of a slice of a New York pie and only half as appetizing. The other people who occupy space on our same plane of existence will only surmise their positions on the karmic totem pole and wander–trudge–through the rest of the week with no common purpose readily apparent to them, lost to be found once the tide comes in.

LXXXIX

As a somewhat absent-minded explorer of the written word, I developed a taste for writing down ideas in small notebooks that typically resided in my back pocket. I’d filled up several of these, left the rest of them mostly unfilled. I tended to review them all from time to time, never quite sure how to utilize those bits and pieces.

One day I decided to put all these tiny books in a tote bag and carry them around with me, thinking–perhaps foolishly–that traveling with all of them in tow would reveal some sort of grand scheme, and perhaps being in the world would lead to a breakthrough observation that could somehow link up with a scrap of material I’d already scrawled. I thought, somewhat romantically, that my quest for written enlightenment in the form of rifling through broken-in notebooks would draw the attention of a fellow traveler who would strike up a conversation about their passion, a conversation leading to a lifelong friendship, etc. etc.

Then, four days into my routine of meandering with all my potential nuggets, I got distracted on the bus and nearly missed my stop, running from my seat in the back to squeeze out the rear door. Thirty seconds after walking down a side street, I realized my bag was still on the bus. All those ideas that I should have capitalized on… too late for that, for those what-ifs. Honestly, I should have been more upset than I was, but I’ve always been more of a passive individual, especially since having mood stabilizers prescribed to me.

Now, stripped of my safety blanket, I had to start scrambling and starting my collection of creative fragments all over again, going strictly by what I could remember offhand. I thought doing this could serve as a litmus test, to weed out the inconsequential and narrow down the essential.

My favorite ideas were always fabricated scenarios that had nothing to do with my life, likely never to happen in this reality of ours due to some impossibility (a lot of the time involving animals or inanimate objects). I started recovering my potential next-great-American-novels with a simple list, and since I have your attention, here’s the tip of that iceberg for your entertainment, in no particular order:

A gorilla named Esperanto who can use sign language, but only in Spanish.

Three bank robbers who decide to split the money from their last heist to fund their distinct hobbies: spelunking, international espionage and latex glove manufacturing.

A musician who adopts a baby and forms a metal band after the child responds positively to that particular genre of music.

An extraterrestrial–or extrasensory–being who makes its thoughts available to only those whose minds operate on a certain wavelength, for the purpose of slowly assimilating alien thought into human culture.

A frisbee that hasn’t been used for twelve years, lying undisturbed in a storage unit and reflecting on its life while other objects in the unit share similar stories of neglect.

The list goes on and on, and I shocked myself at how well I could recall these (seemingly) trivial tidbits that could eventually lead to major motion pictures down the road. I’m still too lazy to develop any of them, but at least I have them back in my first of what I’m sure will be plenty more tiny notebooks.