Pinned

Jim Olivo left a note behind for me
many summer camps ago–pinned
to a pine–that reads:

“If you want the recipe for that turkey sandwich from mess hall, you’ll have to pry it from the clutches of none other than Neander The Articulate. Born with almost-exclusively neanderthal blood, his scrawniness prevented him from competing with his peers on a physical level, leaving him alone with his thoughts on a regular basis. Over the years, this ostracized fella developed a peculiarly sharp wit, mainly due to his constant observation of the individuals he would have considered his peers (if they would ever let him). Little by little he started sneaking tiny esoteric quips in edgewise–mainly in passing–that befuddled the muscly alphas and intrigued the blossoming females.”

It goes on like that
for a couple more pages.
I think Jim was working out
some kind of material on me,
because I couldn’t ever find
a turkey sandwich recipe
or a local neanderthal
for the life of me.
Maybe he was talking about
the camp across the lake.

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.

Dips and Dives

Exaggerating one’s influence should be among those acts reserved for the dolomite entrepreneurs out there with more margarine than non-dairy coffee creamer at their regular disposal.

If we allow these blowhards to navigate the kitchen table’s width and fail to uncover the tangential ne’er-do-wells we’ve been warned about, then what was it all for?

All we can say is that protesting such an alteration of manifest destiny (density?) comes with the price of freedom (and a bag of chips in some circumstances), and nothing short of Ozzy the Philistine could resurrect the embattled intentions of those labor organizers mainly concerned with seizing the means of production.

We must remain ever-vigilant, for you never know when pediatric charlie horse tendencies will rear their ugly heads in the recesses of adolescent America. We (the Americanses) once sat atop the global jungle gym, our ingenuity and general cuteness inspiring power-seekers a world around to blush with envy at the amenities they could only imagine (until that coal train came a rolling down the bend with the promise of sooty modernity), filling their heads with unrequited lust for widgets and modules and bells and whistles that could fill their modest spaces—digital and otherwise.

And, of course, once even a modicum of that prosperity had begun evening the materialistic score, we flat out lost our lease on the planet. As our Gaia gathers the foreclosure paperwork, we scramble like the varmints we really are, pushing and shoving, blaming all but ourselves and projecting our greed onto unrealistic scapegoats for just long enough to lose any chance of saving what had once been humanity’s little slice of paradise that, against all odds, had once been a serviceable milieu.

Ah well, the sloughing-off period is just gonna have to start a little early this time around, with a tad more english on the dips and dives.

Parlance

It’s my unrelenting plan
to escape to the future
at any time now, to a time
where the ones greeting me
want only to offer the knowledge
and dynamics of their era.

We’re all quite familiar with that little bit of
science fiction by now–the storied
advanced civilization that doesn’t so much mind
a past-person stumbling upon their developments.

Ya see, these folks would require
astute pupils for their lessons
in temporal psychology, so
if an intuitive person
were to find themselves ensconced
in such an environment,
these lovely future guardians
would instinctively root out
the nature of said snoop’s intentions–
not to mention their accent
or parlance of the time
they oh so unwittingly represent.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Drawing composed August, 2019–
rollerball pen and dry erase marker on printer paper

Running Low

Albacore dreams float soundless,
drop to sediment, petrify
and wash up:
broken empty shells
pulverized underfoot,
inflicting wounds at will.

All the lost blood
won’t collect
on the beach,
the sand gulps it and dives
into froth.

Burrowed in muck,
all the ‘O’s and ‘AB’s
reaffirm their common lineages,
summoning up a plume of sanguinary vitality
(luring jerky lurker sharks
near the shore to nip some ‘A+’
from a lazing boogie boarder–
that type’s always running low
for some reason).

———-

Original draft posted to WHARVED on 3/2/12,
entitled #130

Stubborn One

Petrification process, present yourself!

Not yet, eh? Why not?
Not talking, eh? Stubborn one, aren’t we?

Well, if you won’t talk, then I’ll just have to be the one to break the ice.

Once upon a time, a fly buzzed around from place to place. Its favorite place to land was upon the top spike of a stegosaurus’ back. Didn’t matter which particular specimen, as long as the spike was at the highest point of the animal.

It may seem odd that I’m mentioning a fly’s perching preference, but by the time I’m done explaining why, you will have–at the very least–a beginner’s understanding as to how futile our existence proves to be over the course of time.

I have now finished my explanation, in case you weren’t aware.