Before School–A Poem (February 18, 2010)

I saw the same homeless man in Starbucks this morning.

He’s always there when I grade before school.

His beard belonged to Bob Marley;

his glasses very Buddy Holly.

He drank coffee at 5:30 a.m. and surfed his stickered laptop.

I think it was Facebook.

“Reading the news,” I asked, as I went for a newspaper.

“I don’t read the news. Nothing in there affects me.”

“What about global warming?”

“The hell with that!”

“What about in 50 years?” (I really said that.)

“Warming’s good for me.”

I glanced at the newspaper’s headline: something grim about jobs.

“I have to go to work,” I said.

“That’s a four letter word.”

“Yes it is.”

I took my coffee to the truck and drove to school.

The shell sign blasted light into the sky,

murdering the Big Dipper.

Queen played on the radio. Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

A rusted bike lay splayed in the gravel. No one would ride it again.

The reader board wished happy birthday in red and blue.

The mole living under the parking lot

somehow pushed dirt up through the asphalt.

The black school cat prowled the portables.

Sea lions barked down on the Bayfront.

Dogs at the shelter barked, too.

I beat the head custodian again,

he’s dying from Agent Orange.

My students wrote well on the disappearance of stars.

Later, we’ll walk to the cemetery and write about the dead.