First things first,
I know how to retrace an eight
So don’t put me in the oral spitoon’s club.

Now, cliche, strength in numbers,
Power with people and
The numbers are nearly there.

Some might need a gentle nudge,
Others subtle persuasion,
The ones not taking the offer
Can go the way of Clemenza
Figurativly speaking, of course.

Who will bring the clans together?
Who will unite the kingdoms against the Danes?
How about all of the departments?

Rabble needs raising,
Swamps need to be pissed on,
The sky is falling is fake news.

Just like the belief that the current structure protects us,
What is the alphabet organization even doing beyond collecting dues
Not Exactly Anything, nationally.
Locally, Keeping Evertyhing Apart by playing a collusion game
That is being run by the man,
The one we are supposed to be a check on.

Impotent, our organization is about as satisfying as stuffing
A marshmallow through a keyhole,
But you know I won’t pay them,
I’m tired of the rationalization that they negotiate on my behalf,

Bullshit,

They are about them, keeping close to power,
To make it seem that they are noble, honorable, and worthy of a reach around.
My truth is that they are no better than the word of weebles
Whose words never speak honestly
Yet they never fall down.

That’s why I say the Covid induced solitary confinement is over,
That the man has overly administered its fickle position,
And maybe the wet noodles and apologists are ready to unite.

The energy is building.
Don’t be a dinosaur, change or die,
Which is already close, all that’s left,
Is to roll over.

1. The air worked against easy running.

2. Explanations were few and far between.

3. The new park was extraordinarily peaceful.

4. Uncertainty dragged his emotions carelessly behind.

5. Everyone is in a different place.

6. Tracking numbers vary in their importance.

7. Who is that on the porch?

Simon hated the coleslaw job. Each order at the Blue Fish Inn came with an order of the slaw. People could choose from either the thick slaw or the runny slaw. Both were gross to Simon. All day long, he was putting a scoop of the gross cabbage stuff on a lettuce leaf that was supposed to be some kind of symbol of life or something. He didn’t know for sure, all he knew was to scoop and deliver. Soon he would have his license and the money to buy his first car.

Occasionally, the thick coleslaw got too think. Simon would mix a little of the runny slaw into the white vat of grossness and all would be well. On this Sunday at brunch, the thick stuff was proving to be too think. So as he often did, Simon poured some runny in and got a long handled spoon to mix it up.

As he began to stir the yuck, the normally smooth consistency of the Blue Fish Inn’s coleslaw was not right. Simon felt like there was something in the slaw. Maybe a spoon or a fork from the kitchen dropped in. He got out his long, black rubber gloves, put them on, and began fishing around in the coleslaw which now held the consistency of the high standards set by the owner, Manny and the chef, Felipe.

Feeling something in the tub, Simon grabbed ahold and lifted the object out. He was shocked to find that he was holding a human arm, elbow to wrist, with no hand. He stepped back in shock. Felipe, the chef, noticed Simon’s reaction and asked him what was wrong.

“There’s an arm in this coleslaw,” he said.

“Oh, that, there’s always one in there. Manny, saw Motel Hell and thought the idea of putting body parts in the slaw would be funny. I guess we missed taking that one out. Don’t worry about it.”

Simon was a bit confused. He ran through as many thoughts as he had at such a young age. None of them brought any danger to him and all of them interfered with his ability to save for a new car, so he threw the handless arm back in the vat of thick coleslaw and went back upon his business of loading up the lettuce.

A big, fancy non-profit bought a cemetery. They did so to make sure that their manicured lawns were not associated with a rotting burial place that so many cemeteries become over the years.

This cemetery was the final resting place of many local historical figures. There was the writer. His plot had a wrought iron fence around it. There were the conductors of The Underground Railroad. Their plots were right next to the road waiting for the next person in need of help.

The problem with the big, fancy non-profit was that they over promised on how they would protect the cemetery. They, in the interest of tax free land protection, made mention that they would repair damaged headstones, that they would keep the grounds clean as if they were behind the stone walls and high admission prices of the foundation, and that the cemetery would be brought to the forefront of historical discussions about those who found their final resting place now stuck between DuPont’s highway vision and a fire station.

The years passed and more headstones began to fall. The ground began to sink. The prices next door continued to grow and the apathy of what were promises made on the hopes of the living for their dead were ignored.

Then, something happened. There was a blight that began hitting the trees within the hallowed grounds of the manicured nature center of the big, fancy non-profit. The water that spewed from the gaudy fountains began to trickle. Something was happening to all that unnatural development and it was eating into the profits of the organization dedicated to keeping itself going.

No one could understand what was happening. A fear began to seep into the administrators of the non-profit money making organization and the fear became desperation after the pandemic. In the hopes of getting some guidance, a soothsayer came to the grounds and offered some advice.

“Respect the dead. They deserve your integrity. Help them.”

The next day, crews were sent to the cemetery. They cleaned up the grounds and got rid of the weeds that were taking over. Leaning headstones were reset. Those that had aged to a point where the names could not be read were cleaned and the names cut back into the stone. Promises were being kept.

Strangely, the infestations and sludge like water on the other side of the street began to clear up. The grounds were being restored to their previous profit making level. The big, fancy non-profit would be able to survive and the souls of the those laid to rest across the street would be able live the way their ansestors had hoped they would.

Note: I’ve been taking Master Classes during the shutdown. Currently, I’m taking one by Joyce Carol Oates and in it, she has given an assignment to write for 45-minutes without stopping. I used the program, Flow State, to keep me writing the whole time. This is the rough draft. I have not done any editing but I thought I’d see if there was any reaction. It’s about 1,600-words, a little out of my comfort zone.

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Perfect lessons travel like express trains. The problem with learning is that there are often more trains on the track than can be handled and often that leads to some sort of derailment or headon collision. Such is the life of a teenager in townhome community. As if it wasn’t already hard enough to be be a kid, nature or China or some other entity threw a novel virus into the world and locked everything down for the unforeseen future. Kids were left out at what is supposed to be the most important time of their lives, at least as far as social development is concerned.

So the kids were left to the devices, literally, phones, tablets, computer screens, and gaming consoles became their only way to communicate with friends or go to school. Luckily, the start of the lockdown came when it was still cold and rainy, but then there were a few May days where the sun invited the kids outside, the need to hang with friends was greater than social distancing, and outside beckoned to the youngsters.

Back to the community thing, the kids live in a neighborhood that is notoriously polar. There are long time families without kids, senior citizens who have mostly forgotten what it was like to have children. They walk around eyeballing every little thing in the community and reporting back to the association any and all violations of the bylaws. Mostly, they have nothing else to do and are left to making themselves feel important in their waning years.

At the other end of the neighborly spectrum are the young parents. They have kids who are just beginning to walk and talk. For these families, life during the pandemic must be a nightmare. To have screaming, attention seeking, young and impressionable minds, and their insatiable need to love and learning around all the time have got to be insufferable. These families get out and walk with their large, three-wheeled strollers talking on the their phones, chatting with a walking partner, or baby talking their babies. They don’t have a care for the community at any junction of their walk because they are free, able to walk wildly, without the worry of entertaining the little rugrat who is bound and gagged in the over priced stroller.

So, it is at these two ends of dementia, I mean life, that teenagers get squeezed. The old farts don’t want them climbing trees. The young upstart parents want to make an example of them to impress their children. All in all, both are asinine.

I grew up in an apartment complex. I was loud, played outside most of the time, and I am absolutely sure that people were not happy that we were out so much. If I could go back an apologize to the people who lived where we played football, I would, but they’ll have to be satisfied with a big point to the sky because, well, I actually don’t feel like I need to apologize for being a kid. If we had been out tearing things up, I would feel badly, but for playing, no, I’ve got nothing to apologize for. The problem is that today’s adults have become little “bitches” who think that the world is only about them. Their memories have been crushed by the politically correct, my feelings matter most, I empowered to have my right trump yours, kind of thinking.

The older sect, their empowerment comes from the belief that the fifties were the golden years of America. I don’t think they remember that the Civil Rights movement was finally gaining steam, that wars would bookend their decade, and that John Wayne and John Huston were creating some of the worst stereotypes in the name of cinema. It’s that inability to disassociate themselves from the worst of their youth when they judge the kids of today that drives me crazy. Bad stuff happened when old people were young. I bet they did some of it themselves. Today, they’d call their actions, mischief. When the describe today’s kids, they call them hoodlums.

It’s the younger ones I have trouble with. These parents who are just starting out are not too far removed from the indiscretions of their youth. Heck, the little ones in those fancy strollers might even be mistakes. For these just out of adolescence parents to be so uptight about what teenagers are doing is beyond comprehension. What happens to us when we make another? Do we lose all sense of reason? Are we so desperate for control that we lash out at others in an egotistical power play?

I don’t know, but I do get tired of hearing people bashing kids all of the time. Please, don’t get me wrong, I equally hate excusing childish behavior as, “Ah, shucks, they’re just kids,” but so much of the hate put on kids is really a distorted perception on the parts of adults with nothing better to than the be… adults.

All of the issues that people are having right now relating to people are understandable. Covid-19 and the shelter in place orders have put everyone on edge. The lack of money flowing has got to be stressing people out. Then, they have to interact with others, either on a walk, in a store, or watching kids play outside of their windows and they have no idea what it means to be a human being. It means we support each other. It means we take on challenges. It means we are not dicks to each other.

Maybe that sounds a little difficult to some, but you’ve got to get over yourselves and understand the patience goes a long way right now. The walls are closing in for everyone, but having kids outside might be the best thing for them. They need to be outside hanging with their friends. They need to be outside running around strengthening the bodies. They need to be outside getting exposed to whatever germs there are so that their immune systems will get stronger. They don’t need to be sitting around anymore. A lot of adults who are wanting kids to stay inside once thought this way. Get them off of their X-box. They should be outside like we were when we were kids. You didn’t hear about people in our generation dying from stuff. We were tough.

Ah, the good old days, when a little bit of dirt was just enough to figure out what to do, but now, these young as parents who were raised in programmed play, travel sports, and play dates don’t know what can be done with a little dirt. It can be a base, turned into a place to play with cars, gotten wet and turned into a mudpie that is good for throwing on someone. What do I know, I’m just a guy who is somewhere between old head and young parent watching two teenage kids deal with the malaize that is adults who forget what it was like to be a kid.

Maybe we should send them back to school. After all, you need a license or certificate for just about anything. One major exception is becoming a parent. Any couple smart enough to dip a wick can make a kid. Any couple smart enough to want to do should have the wisdom of the past and be able to know that sometimes kids make mistakes.

But wait, they should also have the grace to accept that adults do too. Things are not what they seem. Maybe the events of a situation didn’t happen quite the way they thought. The adults should spend a little time watching Law and Order, the witness usually mess things up with some lapse of memory. Instead of jumping to conclusion, they should remember the lessons Elmo sang about taking a breath and go back to their recliners or quality time with their dirty diaper training wheel organic Kryptonite kids and learn what is real. Kids make mistakes. If they didn’t, there would be no need for diapers.

As my time here winds down, I’d like to thank twenty-six years of working in public schools for my warped wisdom. I spend a great deal of time with kids, mostly teenagers now. I look at them knowing that they are in learning mode. They have to be taught and as hard as it is to get through to them, I’ve got to be as patient as I can be. I’m not always good at it and I’m sure it will be tough to get back in the groove one the pandemic subsides, but I can sit back and laugh at my neighbors who have no clue what it means to raise other people’s children. They don’t know the effect they are having on their kids by yelling at other kids. They don’t know how their baby talk and coddling is creating some manipulative little mofos. Maybe then, I’ve found some sort of Maslow certainty where I’m comfortable with kids. I don’t really have to worry about the neighborhood kids. One, most of them are too young to bother me. Two, their parents are always hovering over them.

That’s not good…

The wind blew too many trees down for the power lines to handle. My dog, scared by the silence of power outages, and I sat at the dinner table. His ears were pulled back, a sure sign that he was afraid of the arrival of nature’s next indignity to hit in April. While his ears were low, his eyes were alert for any crumb that might fall from my dinner of bagels dipped in olive oil. He patiently waited until I offered him a small saturated piece. With no grace at all, he brutishly plucked it from my fingers. Delicious.

Fred’s week went down right after he had his best swim. The water pushed him along, nearly parting as he pushed his newfound pace. There was a post-exercise rush that ended as soon as he got to work. The weight of shutdown culture came crashing down. The drowning nature of the fear existing from the defense of other people’s feelings pulled Fred under. He did the only thing he knew to do. He held his breath, dropping out of sight and stewing about what life was becoming, an unfortunate set of experiences that stole the good from a super swim.

colorful clown toy

There were a few minutes left in the longest school day of the year. My students were deep into a battle of kickball when the emergency lights around the gym started blinking. The calm and panic-inducing voice commanding everyone to leave the building. We went out into the blinding sun and winter’s wind. Luckily, the sun was winning and it wasn’t too cold. The students walked to the safe zone and we waited to hear what could have caused the unexpected building evacuation. Fortunately, nothing was too wrong. A bag of microwavable popcorn burned. The smoke ended the day.

It was like I had never been in a classroom before. They looked at me like I was some kind of freak speaking a language they had never heard. In less than two weeks, either I had forgotten how to teach or they had no clue what I had taught them over the last four months. This was no dream. This was first period after the holiday recess. I scrambled for the right things to say recognizing that time has a way of bringing things back. Somewhere in a story about my high school teacher, they came back to life.