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.

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–

Far-Fetched

Stern army fandanglers initiate the bizarrest of letterbox rituals as a way to compensate for their minimal internal squawking about where in the hell to buy a caramel macchiato during a Thursday afternoon rush hour—it’s definitely the most congested freeway seen around these parts in quite some time, the rubbernecks all out in force and jamming up the left lane to catch glimpses of a minor fender bender where the only detail of note would be the involvement of a clown car. Fortunately, no actual clowns happened to be in or, indeed, even around said automobile, or traffic would surely would be at a complete standstill.

The question remains: why is there a clownless clown car on the road? A rational observer would surmise that it’s headed to the shop, getting an oil change or tire rotation, or perhaps being treated to the periodic hand car wash and wax (one of Flopsy® the Clown’s numerous contract stipulations). Suffice it to say that none of these scenarios would benefit from the presence of a real live clown, unless some sort of clowning industry discount were to apply to these local auto-maintenance establishments, which seems utterly far-fetched (yet plausible if our society only knew who pulled the strings).

Never gonna get that got damn macchiato…

(#373)

We are the TOXIC Group:

Tastemakers
Obligating
Xylophones
Into
Conversation

Our meetings typically consist of 30 seconds of clever xylophone-related banter followed by 48 minutes of unbroken claptrappery (occasionally punctuated by a sneeze or self-important cough that reminds folks in the group of their own flimsy mortality). The list of covered topics is indeed long and tedious; an indeterminate amount of talking points is covered multiple–sometimes numerous–times, with very little ceremony.

The talking points typically meander around with little consequence, and our staffers have learned to endure them long enough to get to the meat of the meeting: attempting to reach a quorum on where to go for pizza afterwards. There’s been a glut of new “artisanal” pizza joints in the area, not to mention the existing restaurants who need gimmicks to keep up.

Gino’s Northeast: an old school pizzeria with a hint of sports bar (now with 25% more sass back)
Donnie’s Bunker: war hero’s spot with authentic Vietnam War memorabilia
Skip’s Dugout: retired baseball star’s spot with authentic ’60s and ’70s memorabilia
Gugliotti’s: Sicilian-themed ristorante
Chunkster’s: Most Toppings Around!®
Steggo’s Dino-mite Pizza: self-explanatory
Jeffrey’s Tamborine: adults-only gaming and entertainment-related eatery (wine allowed in the ball pit)

This particular installment of the TOXIC Group (#373) eventually ended with a near-unanimous selection of kofta kebab, since there’s only one local option for that cuisine and we were rapidly running out of time. For the record, a good portion of the group rallied for the adult play place, but Susie’s new around these parts, and we want her to stick around for a month or two before we test her patience with a drunken happy hour.

Roses

The ever-present Rumpelstiltskin type of orangeade
seems to have no connection to the ingenuity
of a person concerned with a corrupt bargain
and everything to do with a personal vendetta
to be meted out over the course of several decades,
if not millennia.

Such a skip in discourse may only lead some people
to believe of its malintent, but truly
there is nothing wrong with such a change in scale.
How else are we to judge our actions
against the actions of others in present or past?
How else are we to compare ourselves
to the species who specialize in longevity?
The trees out there, the mollusks, the fungi,
all of them. We’re just individual pinpricks
in their rearview mirrors, and it would take a miracle
for us to cause more than just a blip
on their collective radar screens.
How do you like those terrible mixed metaphors?
Yeah, it’s getting me pretty hot too, come to think of it.

Who needs any kind of inspiration anymore anyway?
It would seem as though folks
mainly just seek to consume
pleasant media at a reasonable price,
and anything falling outside of that window
must be judged much more critically,
since fewer people have sought it out.
And the ones who go out of their way to discover
such outlets must therefore–in their own minds–
be superior beings, leading to tirades
about their keen eyes and intellects
while we sit there right next to them
with a thumb up our ass, hoping only
to take that thumb and plug up their infernal nostrils.

“What is that intoxicating aroma? Roses?”

“No, genius, it’s my shit-covered finger. Why don’t you go off somewhere and have a time of it while you prank a local youth?”

“Why, you insubordinating little trolley-hopper, I’ll have you know that I earned this domineering nature through sheer pluck and grit. Also, possibly through piss and vinegar. Over the course of my years, I haven’t been able to differentiate the two, though you might say I’m a bit of a glutton for the cinema. Wait, what kind of critic am I? Shit, I forgot. A jack of all trades such as myself can only be concerned with where the next paycheck’s coming from.”

ZSR

Zen Shoe Rodney eats wherever he wants
for only a dollar, never tips less than 1,000%.
Zen Shoe Rodney always walks on air.

God’s KneePod plays only the classic hits
from the comfort of just below His exalted lap
(lap construction brought to you
by the good and hardworking deities
at God-Be-Built Enterprises).
Only one KneePod exists, integrated seamlessly
into His sacred patellar tendon.
Good luck getting your mitts on it.

If one were to estimate its monetary value,
they would immediately burst into flames.
The concept of currency
may not be associated
with such an innovation
in pious music listening.

Zen Shoe Rodney boasts the spirit of a chipmunk,
but only for that observant type of folk.
Zen Shoe Rodney always walks on air.