Do the Math
Numbers are walking, running across the page. 8s and 12s, 16, 18, 21 in formations and/or smaller groupings, asking questions. That empty space after the equals sign, empty, empty and they’d ask me, expect me to fill it in, take it on, move through the steps they told me about, acted as if they were simple, logical. And there I was, somewhere in the middle of the classroom, lost in the crowd of numbers, distracted by anything other than where all this might take me. Lost in the crowd never sure why this was needed. Math and the when, where, and whatever of it lost on me. Or I was lost in the dark forest of equations, in the mean streets of algebra and geometry. I was surrounded by hostile forces, a prisoner in all of that. And here I am somehow a survivor of the squeeze and smash of it, always trying to catch up or figure out why.
In the Desert
I’ve never been on a desert, you know the kind, but I can picture me out in it. The sand as far as I can see, the intense sun, some wind swirling about the sand, and there I am walking along alone, trying to cover as much of my skin, since I know what the sun can do, my head covered, my arms too. I would be staggering a bit by then; heat does that to me, even this dry heat away
from the humid heat I’m used to. I would start to see mirages, like they do in all those movies
I’ve seen, at first just water, as if there were a pond out here in the middle of nowhere, then an oasis with shade and promises of coolness away from this mess I find myself in. You probably know all the details of this tale but picture yourself out there too. We could meet up, stagger along and swap hallucinations, Joe’s pond over there and over there a golf course looking for players. We could go on like this for a time. Remember that I said I’ve never been on a desert, so I’m not sure how long I’d last or how long you would for that matter, but when we get back, we can clear sand from our shoes, get our tattered clothes changed, sit back, turn up the AC, pour a drink or two and then tell tales of our own about being out there in the midst of all that we could imagine.
J. K. Durick is a retired writing teacher and online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Third Wednesday, Black Coffee Review, Kitchen Sink, Synchronized Chaos, Madswirl, Journal of Expressive Writing, and Highland Park Poetry.