Shallow Guy Eating Chips

There's something lonely living here. Everyone feels it, including all of the teachers.

I know about the teachers and the things they believe because I have a hiding place in their lounge. Ever since my early student days, the teacher's lounge gripped me with fascination that couldn't be fully realized in glimpses through the cracked door. I found reasons to stay at school as long as possible: extracurricular enrichments and playing the volunteer. I became the child ghost of the waxed linoleum.

Mrs. Linkage had me assist her with the decorations for Mr. Tolbin's retirement party. As I hung crepe paper owls and twists of tiny incandescent bulbs about the room, my breath was thick and fruity in my chest and my eyes felt heavy with tears. I also felt Mrs. Linkage's gaze upon my deliberate child arms. She felt such happiness in my presence. I was an awed child, calmly appreciative of these teachers, a small walker with gentle footsteps. There was a natural goodness in me that she never recognized in her own children.

None of this is conjecture; my aforementioned hiding place made me privy to such things. In my old age, the ache in my knees is the legacy of my crouching teacher's lounge hours.


The Ice Melting on the Hood

There are things to cling to, like the clean pebbles in the pockets of
my jackets. I have too many jackets. In the last two years, I've only
worn one of them, on less than a dozen days altogether. It makes more
sense to wear sleeves long or carry a sweater. Also, most days there
are only a few minutes in the naked outside for which a jacket might
be preferred, and those minutes are only slightly more terrible
without one. So the closet stays closed, and the jackets and the
pebbles are forgotten, dumbly clinged to with hands that aren't mine.

It occurs to me that the path to work has become wild with thorns and
tough little vines, pleading calls from birds in unseen shadows.
Sometimes the scabs and pale scars on my sun-darkened arms startle me.
I'm not getting used to them and the people I know ask if I've tried
this lotion or that salve. I don't prefer to do that, though. The same
as how I squeeze my head in red hands rather than swallow something
benign from a plastic bottle. The only things I actually treasure are
irrationalities, anyway. The way spitting makes me feel in control,
the way spitting fingernail splinters makes me feel like some kind of
victor, the way a terrible mug of coffee validates this whole