Lake Forest High School’s West Campus
is a giant, brick and cinder block monstrosity,
designed with all the charm and comforts
of a state penitentiary.
practically windowless, colorless,
and completely humorless.
Its warden roams the cinder block dungeons
in his plaid polyester sports coat,
smelling of cigarettes and body odor;
wielding his insignificant power
with more brawn than brain.
I’ve done everything I can to steer clear.
But best laid plans…
Still mocking an outdated documentary
on health, hygiene, and the hazards of smoking;
featuring mildly graphic surgery footage,
phony teens in dungarees,
and from a hole cut in his larynx,
a smiling man blowing smoke rings,
I start down the stairs to my next class
but never see past the very first step
because the clog on my right foot has chosen to go ahead –
getting only as far as the arch, instead –
landing my half-clogged foot on the step’s metal edge.
I plunge toward a stair-ful of surprised friends
and new enemies.
Twisting and hurtling through the innocent
Coming down hard on my back.
With the grim, fluorescent lighting above
and the cold, cement floor below,
I am returned to the moment by the moans
of the stunned and wounded getting to their feet.
I attempt to do the same,
but am gently pushed back to the cold concrete.
“You can’t move.”
“I’m fine,” I sigh in response,
attempting to sit up again.
“No,” says our teacher,
as she pushes me back to the ground
(a little more firmly this time).
“I mean, I can’t let you move until the principal gets here.”
“I’M FINE!” explodes off the cinder block walls.
The class is soon sent on their way,
while like a one-shoed idiot, there I lay…
imagining how the news of my nose dive
is already spreading.
Sprinting unnecessarily up the flight of stairs;
a figure is soon looming over me on the landing –
an oppressive cloud of Aqua Velva and brown plaid.
And now I’m truly wishing I was dead.
Finally ensuring my captors
There’ll be no need for an ambulance,
to lawyer up
– or even help up –
and hobble away,
bruised and humiliated.
Less than two weeks later,
fate becomes a hater –
as I tumble down another set of steps.
People are beginning to wonder.
Including the school nurse,
who meets me at the office door,
shaking her head.
Scrutinizing my footwear.
She hates clogs.
Thinks they should all be put in a big pile
Just wait til she catches sight of my new Dr. Scholl’s.