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“I’ve found that just surviving is a noble fight.”
    ~ Billy Joel, “Angry Young Man” from the album Turnstiles (1976)

Another schoolday morning
Here am I
As usual warily navigating the halls
SEP field engaged
Toward the next morning class
Honors English
I arrive
In dead silence
Still virtually invisible and thankfully
Angle toward my daily destination
It’s both chair and desk
Fashioned as a single little metal contraption
With wood seat and writing surface
Custom-stylized top to bottom in years of graffiti
The last
Of its kind
On the middle row
Where none behind me will land a punch
Without my first noting their approach
And taking evasive action
They probably won’t even catch my arrival
Not knowing
About SEP

It was invented by my buddy
Who’d left this jockitch locale
Good for him
Maybe he’d no more need
This silent envelopment
Into which he comported himself
Pervaded with a signal
Creating of everything within an animate neutrino
“I’m not your problem
  I’m somebody else’s problem”
Only now can I also trade it
But only for awhile
For envelopment in this undersize chair-desk
Into which I wriggle my awkward lanky frame
As it silently carries its stylized messages
To the stylized room

From back here
I can avoid the usual jeering looks
Thumps on the head
While for the next fifty minutes
Freed from maintaining field stability
I can concentrate on more interesting things
The girls don’t notice
The concealed glances
From the corner of my lusty eye
During those breaks from notetaking
So good for my through-the-lens vision
In more ways than one
The visioning of my life purpose
Still unclear
What I want to do even careerwise
The prospect of becoming musician engineer writer
Can all be possible
Certainly in the imagination
I can combine interests
There’re ways
Yes much more interesting
To not be concerned
About such a mundane detail of my life
As my aura
Now temporarily left to itself
More or less to follow the wood and metal contours
In which I’m ensconced
Making them part of me
Even this writing surface

Ah but the crafty minions of this locker room sepsis
That falsely calls itself a north state
Always hit upon schemes
For disturbing my space despite
All precautions
From the chair-desk in front of me
Without even looking back
One of them’s caught onto a cute trick
Though I would’ve sworn he nearly could’ve been a friend
Neither casually stupid like so many others here
Nor sportstar rockstar beerswigging wannabe
We even have things in common
Maybe that scares him so
That every time the teacher starts writing
At the blackboard
He leans his hard tight enclosure backward
And look — he just happens to have it
Perfectly aligned so his top wooden backslat
Knocks the front of my writing surface
My pencil skips
A mad streak on the paper
Three pages of my notebook wrinkle
Tearing perforations
Time to do something about it
Out of his pitching himself harder and faster into my front
As from the hard tight embrace of an ecstatic rage
A flash of inspiration
Bequeathing its small smile

The complicity I’ve been sensing from all the other chair-desks
Is borne out by their lack of interest
Feigned or real
Blatant harassment is somebody else’s problem
He’s therefore promoted and empowered
To swing back harder
With increasing fervor
The teacher looks up
Finds nothing apparently amiss
What a doorknob
As the clown’s feet return to the floor
I enact my small plan
With SEP re-engaged
In one quiet motion
The little structure around me
That’s taken the brunt of his abuse
As it wraps swirls protects motionless till now
Ascends with me
Tiptoes backward on the wood
Soft baby steps
Into the space behind
Far enough
To gently touch down
This awkward thing made almost elegant
By my own awkward being
In dead silence
Of somebody else’s problem
Catches no attention

He swings back again
His feet relaunching themselves from the floor
To bring him over harder than ever
Too hard
To not go all the way baby
So shocked at his weightless drop
Beyond the ejaculatory point of no return
That he doesn’t even begin reaching
To protect his head
As he and his custom-stylized chair-desk
Hang expectantly that long cruel wheelie moment
Then with spellbound ruthlessness
Continue edging their backward arc toward the hard plangent floor
While he holds on
I’ve already heard and seen this reality
Unfold in my mind
Nothing but the not-reaching comes as a surprise
Yes that was interesting

Why bother watching more
When I already sense the immanent blow
That’ll crush egos
That’d considered themselves safely wrapped
In every cramped chair-desk
There is
Stylized in somebody else’s custom symbols
For somebody else’s edification
All enmeshed in what’s not theirs and long gone
From this drawling ignoramus place
Certainly not my problem
That the explosive impact rattles the entire stylized room
Which with one collective gasp whirls
The teacher
Surely staring open-mouthed
In dead silence
Like everyone else
But me
Witnessing this sight
I’ve already glanced up and back down from the brief view
Of the shoes in the air
Before me their soles
Like the custom-stylized feet
Of the chair-desk alongside them settle into facing the blackboard
At either chair-desk feet shoe soles or blackboard
There’s space in which I could scribble out his future
If I cared
He’ll lie stunned for an entire minute
While no one utters so much as a snicker
As only I ever seem to deserve these
Clamber out carefully
Graduate in a couple years
Become a distinguished professor by next decade’s end
Like so many others I’ll have to prove
To be unfitting for the pompous attitudes
They inhabit carrying a message
Opposite mine
Or not
And why should I care
They’re not my problem
Nor is this gaping room
The real surprise to come from this episode
Only after a couple more decades
As I read a Douglas Adams novel for the sake
Of these old times
Will be that my buddy didn’t invent it after all
Though the original SEP field required a flashlight battery
The form in which he passed it to me
Needs only a mind that’s quiet
Amid its ’bacca-prahmin’ environs
For now
In dead silence
As usual
I sit taking notes

Thanks always returns

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