Tuesday, November 26, 2013

poem of the day 11.26.13

taking stock

the kid with down syndrome
is pacing back and forth in front of my desk

he’s not a kid, really
although he’s small like one

i have him pegged at twenty tops

he keeps pacing then bouncing on one leg to lean in
going puh-puh-puh in lieu of conversation
before leaning back out and pacing again

i can’t tell if he has a question
or if he needs the key to the bathroom
or if there’s something wrong and i should get his keeper

if they’re even called keepers

i split the difference
and keeping reading the new york times
in lieu of doing my job

h-how long have y-you been here?
he finally leans in and asks

do you mean on this planet? i answer

blank stare

i’ve been here too long, i say
spreading a little sarcasm on the morning

i get another blank stare
before he starts pacing again, going puh-puh-puh

and i stop reading the times
thinking, great, now i’m the asshole
who’s giving a down syndrome kid a hard time

four years, i blurt out

he stops pacing

four years here
six years on the job
ten years in this city
twenty years of working with at least as many jobs
in three cities with two cars and two cats and one wife
who was once one of four girlfriends that i’ve had in this life
in fifteen apartments and homes
spread all over almost forty years on this planet
continuing on and on for an incalculable amount of time
until i’m dead and gone and carbon
and someone else is sitting here in this seat answering questions

how’s that?  i ask my new friend

he nods and says nothing
goes back to pacing and puh-puh-puh

while i go back to the times
and an ever-increasingly violent and dull world
where peace and empathy have gone the way of the dogs
and everyone seems to have a cold war nuclear hard-on again

until he leans in and asks me
w-what is y-your favorite color?

and i lean forward and tell him

you know, kid, color is a tricky thing
especially in this country


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