Gunslinger 101

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Gunslinger 101

Recent school shootings
have prompted some 

                                otherwise normal 	
                                citizens 

to urge school officials  
to encourage and force

                                thoughtful classroom 	
                                teachers

to arm themselves and
defend their classroom, 

		                seemingly a half-baked 
				idea.


Should an intruder,
bent on destruction, 

				burst into a
				classroom,

amid, say, a dull 
lesson on Grammar,

				(verb tenses for
				instance)

the teacher, holstered,
calm and brave,
				like Billy The 
				Kid,

who’d murdered 
a few surprised folks, 

				but caught a bullet
 	                        himself.
 
The teacher would
 try 
to protect his students,
 
				from great 
				harm.

I can see it now—
the desperate shooter, 

				shielded behind a 
				wriggling

armful of Jennifer,
while wildly 
				reducing the 
				blackboard

to shredded chips 
of powdered rubble

				with an AK47 
				gizmo.

Meanwhile, I’m 
patiently waiting 

				to get a clear
				shot 

just above 
Jennifer’s shoulder,

				without grazing her 
				ear, 

all the while wishing 
I had rigged up

				a few IEDs near the
	                        doorway 

so he could 
experience firsthand 

				the finality of 
				smithereens.

Despite my lack 
of Seal Team training, 

				I rued the obvious 
				fact 

I had neglected to 
string up 

				a few strands of barbed 
				wire 

to hold him at bay 
while I rummaged

                               for a spare 
                               grenade, 

but I didn’t dare take 
my eyes off him for fear

				he might touch Jennifer
                                improperly.

My best option seemed 
to be to let him blaze 

				through endless rounds of 
                                ammo,

until the local Swat Team 
could swoop in,

				riddle me with 
				bullets,

arrest the shooter,
rescue Jennifer, 
 
				and ask questions 
				later.

. . . j

Saucy Pretty

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Saucy Pretty

Regarding matters of
my childhood— 

in particular

my school’s primary
report card— 

which made
sinful distinctions

between

Excellent,

Needs Improvement

And 

Satisfactory Progress.

It would not surprise
me much, if your
school had a similar
grading system.

At age six, I,
an untamed boy
sporting a world class
cowlick,

and unfamiliar 
with the rules
of polite society,

Was graded,

Needs Improvement,

in matters of 

Plays well with others.

“Needs improvement?”
Bloody hell?

Was that the best
Miss Throttle’s
heart could muster?

With sisters like mine,
the fact I wasn’t up for

Murder One 

was just short 
of a miracle.

Needs Improvement ?

Your honor,

My honor has been 

sullied 

for defending myself
in the sandbox,
Friday last,

from the uncivilized 
advances of one

Saucy Pretty,
queen of the 
Monkey Bars,

a classmate,

who grabbed
me by the throat and
attempted to kiss me

until I pushed a small
handful, perhaps ten
thousand grains at most
of sand into her 
puckered mouth?

For that my 
near perfect
attendance goes 
unheralded?

For that it is forgotten
that I alone was the 
only boy left standing
against nine girls
in our first 
Spelling Bee?


Plays Well With Others?

What kind of made up
Cockamamie evaluation
category is that?

I’m working my head off
memorizing 

the alphabet and
state names and
learning how to 
line up for recess,
and  I get 

dinged with such a 
frivolous mark as

Needs Improvement 

for

PlaysWell With Others 

when the girls are 
hanging upside down on
the monkey bars,
dresses over their heads,
bare knees showing?

Give me a break!

from the Senses and More Such collection

. . . j


Uncertainty

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Uncertainty

I cannot see my ship over the horizon 					
No matter shining sails or mast’s towering height.		
Unseen then, how am I to know it’s the right one? 		
My eyes strain ever in darkness to catch the light.		

I lean the platform for the late train round the bend	
Indistinct sounds will tantalize yet fool my ear.		
Who knows for sure the engine late or early, send?		
Schedules do little to alleviate my fear.				
  
The day after my last breath on earth is taken.		
The morning’s dawn comes as usual, but not for me.	
Have I, in my slender faith, been true forsaken?		 
The while my life spent with eyes unable to see?		

from the Senses and More Such collection
. . . j

Rain

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Rain

                                      Rain
                                         *
                       h e r    ordinary  Tue                    
                 t                                          s       
          a                                                       d             
     r                                                                     a                                         
A - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - y
		                          i
		                         n
                  
                                         S
		                         e
		                         a
		                         t     
		                         t       e
	                                     l

 
      ile   mud puddles  gleefully     
   h : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :   h.       
    w : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :   t       
           plot and gather dep     

from the Senses and More Such collection

. . . j

Accused

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Accused


Once the facts—

presented as 
evidence mind you—  

the DNA, 
the trail of bloody footprints,

the cell phone pings,
the blood spatter analysis,

the suspect weapon,
and the lame alibies

of the husband,
the former boyfriends,

the deranged work colleague,
and the mysterious stranger

have been gathered,
and verified, or not,

and sifted,
like Murderer’s Flour,

examined minutely,
microscopically,

there remains 
but one more 

step to take.

Someone needs
to be blamed.

from the Senses and More Such collection

. . . j

Am I Pretty?

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Am I Pretty?

Oh, Mama, that's not what I mean. 
What I mean is: am I pretty? 

I've already told you, yes. 
Now that's enough of that. 
You have a nice young pretty face. 
I never heard of such foolishness.

But, Mama, you've got to say something about me. 
Am I pretty enough.to get anybody...
to get people interested in me? 
 
Emily, you make me tired. Now stop it. 
You're pretty enough for all normal purposes 

Oh, Mama, you're no help at all.

from "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder

. . . j