by Jocko Benoit

I thrash about in the bog of my embarrassment
While my students file out. How can I
Keep pretending to know anything? The sphinx
Has kept its dignity for thousands of years
By just shutting up. I, who no longer believe
In learning, should not be allowed to teach students
Shoring up ruins with rubbled information.
Meanwhile I have to spend too many nights
Punctuating the equilibrium of their ignorance.

That one there just out the door?
His father lost everything on measuring
The breeding of horses one bet at a time.
Where the father pored over racing forms,
The son will pore over stock analyses where
Only the fittest survive. You see - Darwin
Was a hack who never asked if land was so great
Why didn’t all the fish crawl onto it?
Some of them could see me waving,
Shouting, lying, “Come on up. The land is fine.”

I go for a swim to relax before my next
Embarrassment – dance class. Lefthanders,
I explain to my partner, have a problem
With structure – though scientists cannot
Decide if we are a leap forward, back, or just
A weird shoot to the side as I go forward
When I should go back and step on her
Good foot. “Sorry. I’ve got two left fins.”
Week after week the good dancers here
Meet each other and escape to the couple’s
Sessions earlier in the evening,
Leaving only the awkward, the shy
To dance together with their
Incompatible rhythms and insecurities.
One step forward, two steps back
In this extinction mambo.

Too often I glow bashful as a dying sun,
Ashamed of my inability to choose
A different woman in the endless game
Of four-archetype monte – getting the same card
Even though the face is new. The woman
Who believes in self-improvement, that I
Will change, evolve into a higher manhood,
That she will build the bigger, better orgasm
Because her reach always exceeds her gasp –
The kind whose walkman plays
Thus Spake Zarathustra so every moment
Feels like a dawning sun.

I go pond skating to get lost in the crowds,
Neither on solid footing or at sea. I move
Forward with a learned grace that has
No stop or reverse. Inertia takes me in her languid arms
Until I slow to a precarious stillness. I scrunch
Down into what anthropologists might call
The defecating position, but it is how I try
To skate backwards. A slip, a swivel
And by accident the horizon moves
An inch away from me. Straighten, lean,
Swivel – this time deliberate – and I am
Moving counter-clockwise. I have learned.
Thus skates Zarathustra. Somewhere below,
A fish looks up through the solid fog,
Sees this wordless miracle, blinks,
Shakes its head and swims away.

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