Ode to the Professor Who Wore a Dinosaur Costume to Work
rating: +36+x

I wonder, if I stayed out

after the clouds poured empty,

would I grow crystals, sulpherous green

on my skin? If I held very, very still

would my lungs turn to crackling noise

my eyes to quartz

my body a statue,


I once saw a magician

perform a trick I’d seen before. I cried out

that there was a mirror, this was no ESP,

clapped my hands and gleefully waited

for my echoes to fade, for him to perform something new

because now that the easy tricks were out of the way, he could improve.

After all, why would he show us quaint parlor tricks

when magic would do? His face was unreadable

and I didn’t understand why he didn’t show us more—

why that trickless magician was still standing there

in his star-and-patchwork robe, audienceless, staring at a kid

who thought they knew the world.

There’s a copper taste when I leave the bath.

I dunk my head, fill my sinuses

with soap. I think if I stayed there I’d grow

like quartz in seawater. Or maybe my skin would degrade,

fleck away in bloodless strips, the tonguing of whaleskin by a remnant sea.

Maybe there’s nothing to be said

about the music of the world, but why not

send your first-grade art to Paris and see what happens?

Call it Innocence in Pastel and Crayon, Mixed Media Portraits

Memories Blurred, Laughter Keeping On. Write a book

and donate it to a library. Carve an avocado pit and sell it

for free to a stranger at a garage sale. Plant morning glories

in watering cans, put those on the sidewalk. Erect a wet floor sign

at the bus stop, draw a puddle in chalk.

My roommate says when they buy a house, they’ll keep it up

without installing a waterfall. And I say,

make that waterfall. Plant plains grasses. Build a climbing gym

in your living room. Construct a statue to an old god

on your porch, cover your bedroom plexiglass

with rainbow prisms to dazzle the sun.

There’s a fine line between burning an hour

and spending it, hard cash, for joy and weirdness.

Who likes concrete blocks

without a graffiti sunrise? There's an ivy-strewn whale skeleton

hanging in a lecture hall. Tiger lilies on rooftops,

weird art on porch ledges, ferns in bookshelves. I think next time it rains

I’ll go outside and feel the droplets on my face. Maybe

I’ll turn to gemstones. Maybe in the pantry

is last winter’s cocoa, and it’ll be all the sweeter

for remembering the snow.

I was taking a bath and a bunch of ideas came to me all at once. I clung to the words I had like a drowning sailor to a raft. After the bath, I rushed to my laptop and spent 45 minutes writing it down, adjusting, rewriting, creating. Here is the product. There's always room for wonder in life. Enjoy!

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