Desperation for a nap

While an interior dining space offered solace for hungry companions, the decrepit building's exterior sent chills down Mr. F's back.

While an interior dining space offered solace for hungry companions, the decrepit building’s exterior sent chills down Mr. F’s back.

In the dining area of a building, there were seven treats on the floor ready to be picked up by seven people in attendance. Mr. F watched the first hand grab a treat but he was unsure if he was going to be the next as he noticed no one else’s movement. Restless noises trailed from another room and disturbed the energy to the point when Mr. F turned his head and then faced dark space underneath his desk. A pain throbbed on the left side of his neck while he tried shaking his hands and shoulders awake from an awkward attempt at creating a pillow on the speckled blue desk chair. Its pattern made one feel peaceful in the warmth of a hotel’s uninspiring repetitions of color and shapes.

While he straightened his torso, Mr. F slid his seated half very little into comfort. He hoped no one saw his desperation for a nap in the midst of all the chattering in the hallway as students exited and entered the lunch area. Slowly the paralyzing needles crept over his legs and arms as they came to life. Energy drinks were wedged at the top of his briefcase so he snatched one and tossed it into his left hand, pulled his desk drawer open with his right, patted around for a straw and plunged it in the can after he popped it open. He needed to check the time but the alarm didn’t go off so he knew there was no emergency.

He stood up as though he were just checking his briefcase for the smallest piece of information. Nearly jolting by the memory of responsibility, his eyes moved across paper piles on his desk of grades in need of records. To his left he saw the reflection of students giggling as a teacher scolded them for not lining up properly and quietly. It was amazing how little regard students paid to rules and persons of authority, perhaps even comical on a rare occasion. However, deeply troublesome premonitory feelings arose when Mr. F speculated outcomes based on behavioral patterns, which contradicted great ambitions by some of the most uniquely sheepish individuals.

Who was clumsier, the students who couldn’t stay quiet or the teacher who couldn’t manage a night without something to soothe the nerves? It was a question Mr. F was going to write down for another moment’s contemplation until Principal H entered his room and asked, “Good afternoon, Mr. F. How are you?”

Mr. F’s expression shed light on his feelings about her arrival earlier in his classroom but as he casually responded, she angled her head to resemble pouring out any negativity before arriving just in front of him to continue. “I’m not sure you received the email but we’ll need your help starting this afternoon at lunch in the cafeteria. Could you help us with that?”

“Of course. How long do you think this will be?” he inquired.

“From eleven forty until twelve ten,” she replied flatly.

“No issue, just wanting to make sure.”

“Great, well, Mr. L is there now and I’m sure you’ve heard the students already moving,” she stepped back and into a steady pace toward the door. Mr. F couldn’t tell if the turn or passing students interrupted her final words but he took heed and took a final sip before tossing it in the small plastic trashcan on his way out.

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Responsibilities in the morning

Before the tin was left nearly empty, the weather began taking a dramatic turn but the behavior worsened in the sixth grade but somehow lessened in the seventh. Announcements for buses were nowhere near and the chatter was incessant with the exception of the few willing to learn. In almost every class, at least one student possessed athletic abilities and small stature while peers carried fuller frames and personalities expressive of a desire to learn.

With contributions from specialized students of scheming, the review twisted into more of a game where admitting a selection of a prize to the strongest performer garnered more attention than perceiving respectful behavior as the norm. Chaos ensued in the peculiar manner dismissals incited. It was clear the organized process of the activity evaporated with Mr. F’s management of the classroom the first week of the year. Smiling was one mistake realized merely three weeks into the year but something from which he felt vital to recover.

Not in a long time had Mr. F been challenged in tactics encouraging adaptability, wit and creativity on such fast pace and in large volume but a challenge of significant proportions it was. Instances of hardship were ill-phrased obstacles worthy of time and consideration, especially when seeking an immediate resolution, but he decided this would be rewarding on several levels.

Before resting for the next morning, Mr. F gazed at the night sky.

Before resting for the next morning, Mr. F gazed at the night sky.

These thoughts of the classroom circulated as quickly as people who passed the counter at Mr. F’s frequent destination. Old Bess offered a banquet for the senses and spirits but very often turned into a mecca of inebriation. Though he could savor a bottle or two by himself, customary it was to find him observing fellow patrons and engaging in delightful conversations with the ease of a butterfly out of its cocoon while offering libations to new and familiar comrades. Memories of Old Bess and visits to familiar places strung together his daily habits in spite of inevitable responsibilities in the morning.

The nearly empty tin

Nearly paralyzed by the anguish of despair, the poor Mr. F dragged his feet beneath the warm sun as he pondered whether to beg, steal or forget about a morsel of food. The answer created a struggle of character more than hunger as he walked further from the sidewalk adjoining his school and a gas station. To his surprise, a cherry apple colored car screeched to a halt in a gas lane. The driver door swung open and exposed a well-dressed young person whose thickly heeled shoes tapped the ground with severity. Keen on concealing the extent of his curiosity, Mr. F adjusted his navigation toward the array of cigarette ads and scratched windows to get a clear view of the newcomer’s reflection.

To Mr. F’s surprise, the suave energy and tailored attire of a bearded young lad uplifted his spirits and pushed him to the point of laughter when he reflected on the juxtaposition of gracelessness and elegance of the arrival. It was a change of pace in this part of the city where bursts of expression puncture the stale sensation of normalcy but depart just as quickly. As the gentleman hurried from his car to the entrance, Mr. F straightened his posture and allowed the spectacle to enter first.

Inside, the gas station attendants boisterously debated with a paying customer the previous night’s surprise football victory. The debate ensued with “Yo, bro” strewn throughout the conversation, which Mr. F learned to expect as much as the consistent banana supply at the first register. He sauntered down the chip and frozen food aisle, which led to the fully stocked energy drink display where Mr. F routinely scrutinized lists of ingredients and caffeine contents.

His final decision was the same as always so he let the door slam shut as he went up a different aisle toward the animated sports conversation. Not wanting to be rude, he hovered on the carpeted space and looked to his left to see if the red car was still parked outside. To his dismay, he remembered hearing the clicking of heavy heals exit as he contemplated the origins of taurine but the absence of the car left a foreboding sentiment in the pit of Mr. F’s stomach.

“Alright, I can help next customer right here,” exclaimed one of the cashiers.

“Hi, how are you today?” inquired Mr. F.

“Just fine, thank you. And yourself?”

“Well, thanks. Can I get a,” Mr. F quickly scanned the familiar candy display just below the register, “Never mind. Just the drink will do.”

The cashier rambled something very quickly to his coworker then asked Mr. F as he prepared to swipe his card, “Debit or credit today?”

“Credit will do, thanks,” replied Mr. F.

“Credit, alright. Go ahead and swipe.”

Mr. F swiped his card and waited for the receipt as the cashier greeted a new customer. A receipt was the least of his desires so he waved to the cashier while he turned to the left and made his way back to the school.
____

Mr. F recognized one of the voices exclaiming, “Hey, Ms. Y,” or “Hey, Ms. G,” blurted out by students who were scolded for not walking quietly in the hallway. He gazed at the desks upon which he laid handouts for his exam review but Mr. F felt certain the afternoon would flow smoothly to review for the forthcoming test. His plan entailed a question and answer competition with opportunities for students to earn sweet incentives. This, in his mind, would influence students to recognize the advantage of a review day and improve their disruptive behavior exhibited in previous weeks.

Just a few minutes before they were released from lunch, he remembered he needed to retrieve the vintage tin (a lengthy container holding sweet incentives) from its hiding place. He snatched a sheet of paper left on the floor while approaching the metal storage cupboard, slowly opened the door and peered over his right shoulder to make sure no one was watching as they passed his room.

He grabbed what used to be a tin for crackers but Mr. F noticed the weight was significantly lighter than when he left his class the day before. As he moved from the rear corner to the front of his classroom where he would place the bribing system, he opened the lid and found only a quarter of the full supply of incentives left in the tin. The only thing on Mr. F’s mind was getting through a successful day of reviewing with his students and while candy was the least of his worries, stealing was quite another matter.

As he walked toward the board of the classroom, one of his more amiable students entered the room and inquired, “Ey, Mr. F, can I have some candy?”

In an instant, Mr. F’s stomach tensed and wanted to remark, “It’s rather difficult to appease you and your classmates’ plethora of desires especially when a simple incentive system can be abused in the manner I recovered it within fourteen hours of leaving my classroom.” However, he decided a succinct note inside the tin would suffice as he continued walking down the hall to return the culprit’s worksheet, which he found in the vicinity of the nearly empty tin.

Just before June

Below drooping branches
And the sun’s intensity,
A gentleman of a certain age
Finds a suitable place
So he and his grandson
Would enjoy an afternoon
Just before June.

The young person’s cautious
Gaze at each blade of grass
Sparks the grandfather’s
Curiosity but innocently
He did inquire to trigger
the child’s precocious tendency:
“If we’re all humans
On the same planet,
Why do spiders seem to
Show respect for boundaries
While trust bestowed
With once perceived
Like-minded comrades, though
Distantly distinct and dearly
Treasured as friends,
Proves little more than
Disappointing upon fruition
Of actions and words lending
To what may be friendship?”

The child’s gaze slowly
Shifts from grass to roots
But without a change
In countenance so the
Grandfather stands aloof.
“Experience is little
At my young age
But friendship shouldn’t
Entail such burdens you allude.”
Then with a passing of a butterfly
His attention takes him swiftly.

Crestfallen by the truth
Of valid young words,
The grandfather reaches
For his old harmonica
To play an old but familiar tune.

nearly midnight

She felt her lungs collapse as she made
her way to the cool area of the cheese
aisle. Nothing else was on her mind except
to feel the ice-cold racks pressing against
the back of her thighs, though she continued
to pull at her unusually long hair bound
together. She exhaled only briefly until she
saw a man of thirty-four in strange winter
attire to her right who gazed upon the
massive wall of cheese. She caught her
breath and felt at ease by the mere act
of observing this pensive life form.

Upon the wall of cheese, the block marked
mozzarella caught the attention of the
gentleman with a cane and an oblong pink
wig. He stared for a moment, squinted his
eyes at the hanging eight-ounce bags, which
he ripped one off its hook to read ingredients
listed on the back. His eyes widened at the
reality of potato starch in his cheese, which
triggered the reaction to slide the bag onto
the hook from whence it came.

He gazed at the natural blocks of cheese
next to the hanging bags and contemplated
whether a whole or two percent milk block
would make a degree of difference. He
snatched the reduced calorie block and
furiously read its list on the other side.
With only four ingredients, free of potato
starch, he nearly twirled himself with glee.
He exclaimed softly, “That’s so awesome,”
without realizing there was a woman sitting
on the low dairy ledge watching him, almost
eager for an inclination to engage in a
conversation.

“What’s so awesome?”

The only thing on the gentleman’s mind
was the amount of toxins he’d been putting
in his body during the holidays so he
figured he would tell her of the good news
regarding the cheese’s low intoxicant list.
The woman’s facial muscles levitated for
a moment, then returned to an animate state.
She insisted, “What? I’m deaf. I need you
to talk louder if you’re going to tell me
what’s so awesome.”

“The cheese! It has no potato starch and
other ridiculous ingredients!”

She paused. “Wait, what? Who cares about
potato starch?”

“Isn’t it important to remember what we’re
eating and not to forget there are some
things in common foods that have such
harmful chemicals? Why not use more caution
in deciding how we fill our bodies?”

Her head tilted, then she exhaled heavily,
“Wow, that was such a tweet. Oh my gosh,
I’m going to have to tweet that. Remember
me though,” propping up her index finger,
“I’m going to be famous.”

The gentleman laughed as he turned away
to walk down the aisle. Before facing
the opposite direction, he stretched his
neck in her direction and said, “Ah, yes,
darling! And I as well, please do the same!”

half dozen mix

As though movement between leaves
on branches could be illustrated
so gracefully by the hissing and
whistling of changing winds, off
to the right at the end of parallel
lines of monstrous trees is a
doughnut shop convenience store
with a doughnut sculpture of equal
proportion to the branched greenery.
Through the glass doors walk a gentleman
of a husky frame and one of a six foot
skeleton whose narrowness provided
structure for billowing pants and
pocketed dark purple cardigan.

The scent of fried dough rushed
through the nostrils as frosting
oozed off of doughnuts lain on the
metal rack. Both men approach the
register quietly but carefully eye
the display. The cashier approaches
the register after tossing a large
coffee filter in the trash.

Cashier: What I can I get for you?

The two remain silent.

Cashier: Hey, I said what can I
get for you?

The narrow gentleman reaches into
his sports coat pocket and pulls a
small gun and points it at the head
of the cashier who remains frozen
but expresses the same demeanor.

Cashier: I have no money in here.
We’ve just opened for the day.

Narrow: Just give me a fucking
half dozen mix of whatever you
think we’ll eat and hurry up! You
clearly have some baking to do.

The cashier whips a box from under
the register, eyes glued on the
gentleman brandishing the gun.

Cashier: What kind?

Husky: Did you not hear him? Just
put whatever in the box so we can go!

Narrow: Hold the fucking glaze. I said
to get what he thinks I would like
not just whatever.

Husky: Can we not do this here?

Narrow: Don’t jump into my conversations
then, you dumb fat fuck.

Cashier: Please, please, I give you full
dozen for you to stop calling each other
names and using such awful language.

Narrow: Get on with it then!

Husky: Guess it helps to jump into
conversations.

The narrow gentleman pulls the trigger
and punctures the wall parallel
to the counter.

Narrow: It really doesn’t.

fool who shouldn’t walk the line

[This is meant to be hummed/sung as an exploration
of the blues through an omniscient narrator.
Think Pink Anderson, J.D. Short, Otis Rush, Sonny Terry]

Through the screen of a window, the sun shines brightly
illuminating leaves small and still dangling
from branches reaching far above the lazy streets.
Suddenly, a sweet female voice shouts with fury
to confront a gentleman whose tone’s so raspy.house on Farmington

Their argument resembles the blues
if two voices could be used
to show how emotions
can lead to such confusion.

Words are unclear until the woman exclaims,
“Boy, you’ve got me sitting idly
only to tell me someone’s waiting on you.
I said why you got me sitting idly
when someone’s already waiting on you?”

The gentleman sways his body weight to the other side,
flings his arms up, then loudly declares,
“Now, now, now don’t go chasing me with your insanity
just cause you couldn’t come to that party,
though I won’t deny seeing you then would have been mighty nice.”

To which the woman responds with an extraordinary howl,
“Don’t you dare try that move,
I hear about what you’ve been up to.
It’d be best to use less trickery
so I don’t keep feeling like such a fool.”

With disbelief, the gentleman replies,
“I wonder why you act so funny
but your words show me you misread
why I have to go run and hide.
I guess you don’t, no, you don’t know much about me.”

The woman can’t help but laugh with a bit of surprise,
“Honey, hasn’t there been enough time spent
reflecting on our likenesses?” Even as he nods his head,
with pity she says, “Don’t talk to me
like I’m a fool who shouldn’t walk the line.”

When the gentleman pauses, his eyes widen
and jaw drops so he can express,
“This only proves what wasn’t meant to be.
Damn, now I see what woes may come
in more forms ’an one by over thinking compatibility.”

Hidden behind her hands, the woman gasps incredulously,
“I can’t believe I wasted time
helping you find comfort in being divine.
Oh, why does this happen
whenever I help minds of a new light?”
house and tree on Cass
All of a sudden a car in the distance
screeches noisily to a halt
but the two continue bickering
as though nothing happened at all.

Before the gentleman opens his mouth,
he points to the smoky scene,
“Maybe that’s a sign you ought to consider
in saving some of that energy.
Yea, you may want to learn how to use that energy.”

This makes the woman cringe and reply abruptly,
“You take and take but stand without
any respect for my universal love.
So silly, oh, so silly to think
you’d be there in my time of need.”

Stomping her heel against the ground
making cement seem quite hollow,
she advised him, “Send me no more temptations
to things you know I like to doing.
Time enjoyed was heaven sent, was it ’cause I’m such fool?”

The woman repeated, “I said the time enjoyed was heaven sent,”
then the two said in unison,
“And I’ve met the self I’ve suppressed for so long.
Maybe you’re the reason why
it’s easy for it to be hidden and found.”

with a deep sigh

T: I don’t like it when my apples turn brown.
Y: You don’t eat enough apples to dislike when that happens.
T: But I still don’t like when they turn brown, is that a justifiable statement to make?
Y: I don’t see why not.
T: Oh, hell, why am I even asking you?
Y: Because I’m a figure of your imagination that tells you when it’s okay to think things and when it’s okay to think some things that you would otherwise deem unnatural.
T pauses for a few seconds, stares at the carpet, then at the corner of the desk, then at the plant upon the coffee table.
T: Ya know. This plant is in a very inconvenient place in your office.
Y moves his eyes slowly toward the plant and then moves his eyes back to meet the eyes of his patient.
Y: Is that so?
T: Well, yes. (pauses) You don’t want to block the link between the doctor and his patient.
Y continues to stare blankly at T but T doesn’t notice the absence of interest in the new theory.
T: You see there’s simply far too much to consider while I sit here and think about as you sit across from me. The plant would be too much to handle in the processing of information on either one of our ends!
Y: (with a deep sigh) Ah, yes, well I must say I haven’t considered that before.
T: Why thank you.
Y: What do you mean, “Thank you?”
T: I feel like I just gave you a piece of invaluable knowledge that I should be given a reward for. A thank you will do just fine in this instance.
Y: Right, well, I must be heading out soon and you should do the same if you would not like to be billed for more than one appointment.
T: I see, well, yes, I’ll be off then too. Thank you so much for helping me this week.

A week passes and T sits in the same seat and looking exponentially more distraught than the last visit to the office of Y.
T: I don’t understand why the hell things haven’t been going my way. I’ve read a significant amount of literature about the planets’ movements, have yet to see any negative implications of the retrograde movement of Venus, yet I still face complications with my collection of fruit!
Y: Is this a peculiar habit of yours, depending on literature of planetary movements to address your culinary affairs?
T: Well, I don’t think so but I haven’t taken two steps from my home since I had my last visit with you.
Y: WAKE UP!

[originally written October 7, 2010]

the man in purple

It’s happened again, said the man in purple,
The old habit’s gone and
the damned witch made me love
with a mental load big enough to make one scruple!
He hopped and sulked all in four seconds,
only to discover there was nowhere
a person with a solution for his ailments.
So slowly he walked toward the mountainous curve
even as clouds obscured his vision and only his breath was heard.
At first in a whisper, then accelerating to a shout,
the man in purple exclaimed,
I stare out my window
wondering where you could be.
During this morning hour, amidst dark shadows
your face is still all my mind sees!
Should I call or perhaps forget
any attempt to explore if you feel this stress?
I close my eyes and your face is near mine,
a pleasant sight for this late unrest.
Swiftly he continued up the nebulous route
only stopping momentarily to yell at the clouds,
These words are all I have
to sort through what you mean
within my heart even when it grows weary
every time I see you leave.