Letter to the Editor

Every school has their version of the same social groups, the goths, the punks, the nerds, the jocks, the rich, the poor, and at sometime in my life, I’ve been to the headquarters of such clicks, opting for the click of all clicks, where everybody was the same, communism really. But one Christmas we could see a poor boy more poor than the rest. Everybody had to bring in gifts for a local orphanage. Everybody had done so, except for one kid, the kid with the dirty coat and the bobo cheap shoes, the one the other kids in their Nike’s and their Levi’s laugh at, that kid had yet to bring a present in. the teacher laid into him. “Where’s your present?” she said. “If you don’t bring one in, you’ll fail this class. We’re giving to the less fortunate! We have to do that at sometime in our life.” I thought, who’s going to think of the unfortunate we can see? They give these to the poor, and the poor is here.

It’s a rather strange device, a peculiar mechanism of affection, foreign, a name attached to it like the designer tag, your joy was brought to you by _______ x. It was like Santa’s gifts when the morning sun went to work on time, sometimes an odd bit late, but who’s perfect? The sun rose and the poor boy at his poor home sat in his kitchen with his head propped on his hands. He seemed far off, remote, in the manner that a genius, when he’s in the room, can seem light years away when one speaks with them. This is how far off, non-body this kid was in his grief. He looked at a plastic tree in the corner with plastic ornaments and steel dressings rusted and the brittle spindly limbs that climbed less than three feat before giving into Gravity’s bedside manners.

Dooby doob, says I. Get your shit and go. Time for school.

I don’t want to go to school, says he. It’s stupid. The teacher is stupid. The classes are stupid.

That’s why they throw us all together, I say, they think the intelligence will stick to one facet of that nut. Come on. You don’t have to worry about stupidity, I got a kit, and I tell you that thing keeps the dopes away.

What is this? He asked. “You can repel stupid with it? What’s it called?”

Intelligence, I say, should be avoided at all costs, unless you’re under contract or a writer. This machine of mine is brilliant. I wear a clown hat, everywhere I go. The people who are stupid will talk to me and think it’s funny. The people who are smart will avoid me, so I will seek them out, those who do not wish to know me, for who, in the intelligent crowd, has the time or us, eh? We’re the sad poor fucks, I says, no need for intelligence, we’ll make the geeks dinner and make the jocks make it faster. That’s where we’ll settle up for what goes on at the stupid school. You see? Stupid repellant. Just make up an absurd rumor about yourself and spread it around. Then avoid the people who talk to you about it.

That’s stupid.

See? Just like that. It tells me you’re a man of keen intellect sharp enough to cut me right.

He laughed.

Hoorah! I say. Get your present.

Don’t have a present, smart guy.

Check your backpack, dumbass.

And there it was. A book to give to the poor, paid for by his friends, how much he did not know, but he put it under the tree. And he grew up a million miles an hour before he left the zoo, trained up right, he knew how to speak and talk and tell you how far the sun is from the moon and who invented the bifocal. The name of the largest crater on the moon, too, and what else, he tried to bring that mind out, into the world, like the far of geniuses in their tiny club do, and he would not be accepted, so he put on the clown hat, like the other poor kid, and wrote about his adventures in it. The book, some throwback Americana abortion from the post-slavery I’m sorry singing days. There were the brains, the brawn, and the ones who didn’t care, and those cynical clowns who turned up their noses at things like institution and learning cranked out by the poor for the poor, where jocks and nerds and nobody’s go to have their lives shuffled, then dealt out to the world in narrow postal slots, into machines again to rub out a dollar or a refund or a manifesto on their madness, and that, too, with time is sorted into categories, fiction, chick-lit, non-fiction, but that’s what the file says, and that’s the record written down, for someone in the times to come to take out a card filed with our names on it, look at it once, turn it over again, and note good, or bad, like the troublemakers and the criminals, files corrupted in the cogs of society’s machine. And the ones unable to make an appearance on the record, with a smiling face and list of good deeds phoned in, to make some sort of impression on whoever sits above him in the categories of need, the guy who needs what you’ve got and pays you to give it out, that’s him, the judge who sits above you, and when you’re a writer, that judge, in the end, is yourself, and each time you pen a sonnet to the world you’re forced to take a look at it and wonder what it’s worth was, and cruel is the man who does this daily, only to see, his gifts were not delivered to the orphans of the world. The lackeys and the druggy types sold it for a fix, broken robots codeine into their rusted parts and start back up, eyes alight, and mind keen, over and over and over the same machine, the variable mechanism, Karma’s equations, will turn over and over and we’ll call them days, days good or bad, and we’ll file them away accordingly to submit them to the judge when the file is locked, when no more can the prosecution or defense read, when the jury is on trial, when the self is on the line and the self says bad, hangs up, and prank calls you at three in the morning to tell you he’s sorry for waking you up at all, again to walk for a short period under the starry quilt laid at the bosom of our mother, who lets us cling for but a while, before shaking off the fleas. Good? Bad? That’s all we’ve ever had, a voice murmurs bad and the echo comes back good, so the files are corrupted, the mechanic will have to take a look, stick a gloved hand into the head and write down the desire with prescriptions to be written for them all, for one smile take one, for three smiles take two, for a permanent smile, take all, everyday, good they’ll say, inside the lines, the best painting of it’s type to find, and hope that poor coupon is enough for a meeting with the maker, shuffler of the cards, the programmer who must’ve calculated this sort of nonsense, for it, by it, forever. One bad, one good, one love, one hate, one life, one chance to sell it and run out with cash when the shithouse is in flames. I didn’t come here to play Jesus.

Evaluate this, mother fucker.


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