I am a Wisconsin poet and a school bus driver whose mission, which I have decided to accept, is to teach high schoolers how to respond when an adult says good morning and kindergarteners that it's probably best they not lick the seat in front of them. I have published poetry in various literary journals, including Upstreet, Main Street Rag, The Comstock Review, Naugatuck River Review, Verse Wisconsin and others. My book, The Sacred Monotony of Breath, was recently published by Prolific Press. More information can be found at www.robertnordstrom.com.
At the Parkinson’s Support Group Meeting
A slight woman with short gray hair
and small red mouth
pecking at words
like a finger at a typewriter,
Oh, that was in the Overeaters Anonymous
chapter of my life,
now I’m in the Parkinson’s chapter.
I wished to ask her the names
of the other chapters in her life
but it was getting late
and I didn’t know her well.
Later, at home, in the kitchen,
I finish my drink, turn off the kitchen light,
move blindly through dark rooms
to get to where I, too, shall go.
In the 6th grade I got a second chance
when two 1st graders didn’t show up for school
and Mr. Bennett asked for volunteers
to form a search party.
My F in conduct the year before
dangled over me like a hangman’s noose,
but I threw down my bet
and up my arm,
the same arm I had draped over the shoulder
of Greg Rydman the year before as we walked home,
report cards in hand—my F, his D
earned for complicity or proximity, I suppose--
butchering Kingston Trio harmonies with
Hang down your head Bob Nordstrom
hang down your head and cry
hang down your head Greg Rydman
poor boys you’re gonna die
all the way down Clawson, across Harvest,
pouring out our grade school dirge
to the stern oaks and weeping willows,
then Haddington, Greg’s street, his turn
to face his makers, leaving me
to face my own makers,
solo now, humming oh so softly,
across Hanaford, past Harbord,
and finally Rambo Lane, up the drive,
through the back door, to drop
the card on the dining room table.
A talking to, yes, I must have gotten a talking to,
or a look of disappointment, which to my mind
always felt more like confusion,
theirs, not mine,
but I don’t remember.
But I do remember Mr. Bennett’s
stern gaze as he surveyed the classroom.
And I do remember my arm stretching and stretching and
stretching the limits of its 11-year-old tendons and ligaments,
St. Vitus dance wrist and fingers
wriggling and scratching at the jackpot ceiling.
And I do remember we found the kids
wandering around in a nearby field
but that seems hardly the point.
©2015 Robert Nordstrom