Posted by: Mark Nielsen | April 5, 2008

Playing Hooky (A Poem)

Playing Hooky

Playing Hooky.

Doing what I want,

When I want,

How I want,

As fast or as slow as I want,

With only my own private justification

(Flimsy though it may be).

Today I answer to no one

But The One.

Running into old friends at the coffeeshop.

Invited into their private, inner sanctum

Of “ironical” commentary and prayerful chatter.

Wearing my “different drummer” shirt.

Talking of criminals we have known.

Noticing a grandpa with his small granddaughter,

Carefully crossing the street outside.

Ellen notices how the garden gnome statue

By the cash register,

Next to the portrait of John F. Kennedy,

Makes the gnome look like a funhouse mirror image

Of the president.

Tom makes a comment about Kennedy’s “inner gnome”.

I counter that I’m quite familiar

With my own inner gnome.

It’s my inner Kennedy that I’m trying to get in touch with.

Staying so long for breakfast

That it’s lunchtime when we leave.

Poking around after, across the street, alone,

In a little folk music store,

An institution of authenticity–

True-believer Sixties spirit,

(With a markup that’s reasonably low);

Hoping it can stay afloat

Through the current Depression,

Amidst the crass corporate mindset

In the marketplace of the Oughts.

Walking down to the bank.

Taking the time to turn in a lost cash card

Left behind at the outside machine.

Noticing the bank employees

With not enough to do.

Letting my parking meter sit at zero,

Not caring if I’m ticketed.

Running a few errands.

Skipping a few others.

Considering take-out chicken

But deciding against it.

Heading instead for home.

And always,

(Like that graceful gnome)

One step ahead of the guilt

Over all the things left undone today.

Back home,

I feel a poem coming on.

This poem.

Formless. Meandering.

Rhyme, no rhyme–

No concern for meter or time.

With no place to go

(As good poems tend to be),

Lazily loping

Toward a simple but perfect ending.




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