Reading Poetry Makes You Live Longer: Monday Morning Culture Bath


Smile
The first time I realized I had a smile was on the way to gym class.
Mrs. Barnes said, “What’s wrong?”
“You’re not smiling.”
“You always smile.
Then I smiled.
And she walked away.
The first time I realized I had a smile that makes people like me must have been soon after that.



THE RAT HUNTER
Anything that moves is a rat.
Anything that doesn’t is a dead rat.
A rat is as fast as
A piece of light,
A piece of garbage,
A flap.
To scare a rat
hiss or stomp.



Line 47
I was just reading the Trial by Franz Kafka.
Ignore that I said Kafka -
It’s distracting.
It could have been anyone.
Anyways, I couldn’t concentrate.
I kept thinking,
What if I die? -
And they find my computer? -
And all I have on it
is this crap?
How will they know
it was supposed to be great?
I am writing this
so I am not forgotten.
It was cold last night.
I got home late
5:15 am.
It was cold in my room.  I remembered a blanket on the couch – a little, green blanket with the warmth of a large blanket.
I went to the couch and looked through the copy of Flatbush Life.
The front page said:
PAIR DIE IN FLATBUSH GARAGE BLAZE
If you would like to read about the blaze, I retyped the article below.
If not, skip to line 47.
Two men were killed when their attempts to turn a Flatbush garage into a heated shelter turned horribly awry, officials said.
Police believe that the still unidentified victims perished when the papers and rubbish they had lit to keep warm set the garage on fire.
Firefighters responded to the garage, which is attached to the basement of a home on the 1600 block of E. 21st street, near Avenue P, at 5:40 p.m. on January 19th and put the blaze out within minutes.
The fire however, had already taken the victims lives.
Autopsies were pending as this paper went to press.
Officials describe the two men as white, possibly Russian males in their mid-forties to mid-fifties.
Continued on page 21
Horribly written.
Tough fate for the Russians, huh?
I Told you it was cold last night.
I had said something to Chris about it being so cold that homeless people would die.
It didn’t sound like a nice thing to say at the time,
but I was right.
They weren’t necessarily homeless I guess.
You probably thought they were black.
I imagined two black guys
with raggedy coats and hats
and gloves with holes
like an Eddie Murphy movie -
Real Hollywood Bums! -
Skinny, rubbing their hands like me and Chris.
Talking about how cold it was.
Then falling asleep on piles of trash -
Burning and freezing, or freezing and burning.
But it was two Russian guys.
I assume they were drunk because they were Russian.
I imagine them being somewhat heavier
then the black bums,
standing,
passing vodka back and forth -
happy.
I imagined the black bums with some level of contentment too!
LINE 47

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