It’s his first 4th of July alone.

Sovereign sky mimics
Lusty fireflies playing tag;
Blazing trails that zigzag
Over family cookouts.

He orders out too much these days.
And his twin bed is bigger. Colder.

Tonight he makes shadow puppets
On the closet door.

They bounce to beats of intermittent booms,
Under patriotic strobe light
Sneaking through miniblinds
He bought on clearance
At Target.

Heat makes us all crazy.

The ceiling fan looks like an
Overgrown Black Widow
Who has just devoured her mate,

Cackling at the concept
Of visitation rights,
And alternating holidays.


At the meeting conducted by the assistant principals,
They told us how we are losing our children.
That we need to plan lessons with more rigor and relevance.
That our students are playing catch-up to India.

The day before in my Creative Writing class, Kenneth Platt,
Who sat in the assistant principals’ offices many times,
Asked anyone who’d listen—

“Did you know that we lose 40 to 100 strands of hair a day?
And that the Neanderthal’s brain was bigger than ours?
And that India has more sex than any country in the world?”

To which Mitch Sizemore replied, “Book me a flight to India homie.”

They put bite-size chocolates on the tables to appease us.
And for some it seems to suffice; but not me,
Showing us graphs on degrees of retention.

“We need to use our instruction minutes wisely.
Students can’t learn if they’re not actively engaged.
They’ll never fulfill our expectations if we can’t
Stimulate them enough to pay attention.
As educators, it’s our job to…”

I just stared at the spinning ceiling fans
Imagining I was in Calcutta,
A transcendental passenger reflecting in a rickshaw
Letting someone else earning meager pay lead me around,
So I can raise my hand and quizzically ask,

“What are we supposed to do again?”

October 17th

It was overcast and drizzling.

I hummed 99 Luftballoons
As I rode my ten-speed
Through impish puddles
On my way home from the gym.

It was like being 10.

Impatient cars raced by.
I peddled slowly,

Savoring the scent of sullen streets,

And progressed
To singing out the song,

I knew German.

Daniel Romo teaches high school creative writing, and lives in Long Beach, CA. He has been recently published in Monkeybicycle, The Northville Review, and Verdad. He is an MFA candidate at Antioch University, and thinks gray sky the utmost inspiration. More of his writing can be found at Peyote Soliloquies

© 2004-2009 Underground Voices