I don’t know what I am
Yesterday, I was thinking about being a cartoonist
I used to think they were foolish
but now, I realize
they can capture life faster
and with more humor
than a photograph or a poem.
Then, there’s the decision to be an administrator.
In order to do that job, I would have to pretend to be
my favorite dictators
Mussolini, Hitler, Kim Jong-un, Stalin
and I hope I would make good decisions for the government
and the kids would not be harmed by my fantasies
that I use
to deal with the drudgery of
pushing paperwork all day.
If any of the bureaucrats found out
that I am never myself
on any given work day—I don’t know what they would say
Probably, “You’re crazy!” But they’ve already told me that.
is that, I do my job so well
I handle the stress, like it’s not even there.
My seriousness comes from the characters inside my head
and it’s darn frightening
to be staring across the table at Hitler, or an insane psychologist—
take your pick.
But the parents usually like me
and the kids enjoy my sense of humor
and I don’t care about government spending.
I try to get families, exactly what they need.
If I can milk Uncle Sam, it feels good, it tastes good, it gives me nourishment.
I bring down the system with empathy, and school slogans like “We Care”
Most professionals are worried about walking the fine line
I dance on the high wire.
My dad gives me advice on the weekends.
“We’re all actors,” he said, “trying to impress other people.”
“Is that right?”
“Yeah. What do you think cocktail parties are all about, in those big houses on the hill? It’s the continuous cycle of humanity. The poor look down on the rich, and the rich look down on the poor. I knew a man who lived in a log cabin and did photography for a hobby. He ran a trap line and didn’t compete with anybody. He was happy.”
“How does a man free-up his thinking?” I asked.
“Read The Explorer, by Kipling,” my dad said. “You are part of the Attention Generation that says, ‘look at me.’ If you follow your heart, it will take you where you want to go.”
Later, I went to the bookstore, and there was a man screaming at the lady with pink hair (Nature in Reverse). She was giving voice to his emotions, and trying to talk him out of killing the quiet people there, looking forward to spending an even quieter evening next to the air conditioner with a good book.
My mother asked me what he said, but I erased it from my mind. He worked the midnight shift with his wife—7 days a week. No wonder he was insane.
I went home, and watched a movie, and my mother steamed broccoli for me.
The show was about a hustler who played pool. He had a cocky attitude and was up 18 grand, but in the end, he wanted to lose. I left before it happened. It was too painful to watch.
In the end, we have to hustle. Some of us win, but most of us lose.