Reminders

I wake up in the morning grumbling again

about the futile fiasco of fate.

I resent those who bullied and belittled me

in days of subterranean self-esteem

back when I was still a worm,

before I grew up and became a snake.

My thorax aches as I cough from a cold

probably caught from a child my wife

and I teach.

Pride is no place for a slave.

And though the routine repeats itself

off and on throughout the week

in the brain’s tunneling tracks

of fiery fears that flash in little

lightning leaps against the eyelids

when I stir from sleep, convincing

me I’m about to have a stroke

instead of the heart attack

I requested, destined to become

the born-again Christian vegetable

I dread, inestimably blessed

by my lovingly brainwashed wife,

who’s been possessed by the self-

same cult her whole poor imprisoned

life, salvation arrives not through some

schlocky divine intervention cooked up

in the heart of a Hallmark card,

but from watching my adult students

give each of the speeches they’ve

learned by heart, some of them

struggling to remember the more

elusive parts, but every single one

succeeding in completing the difficult

task.  I remember I’m here to help

others help themselves.  The self

may become a beat-up old vehicle

with worn-out seats and a rusty chassis

badly in need of a paint job, but

for now the engine still turns over,

the exhaust pipe barfs out buffalos

of toxic clouds, and the wheels

continue to turn, even as the bald

tires occasionally skid along unforgiving

asphalt, threatening to crash in a crumpling

crescendo of flesh, steel, and glass.

Life may be evenly divided between

accidents and traffic jams, but there

still exist moments of meaning

when everything falls into place,

even as it’s all falling apart.

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