By Ken Gosse
Tarzan For a Day
Way back in the day, in nineteen twenty-six, when kids preferred picnics to hickory sticks (like we did in our days, and our kids’, and theirs, too, for being outdoors offers so much to do), one morning arose a surprise so exciting the boys would behave for a chance so inviting: to touch many animals not in a zoo (where you watch from a distance and bars block your view); to sit down beside them, to smell and to feel their fur and their hide and their teeth with great zeal— and for sight-impaired children, tremendous appeal! To secretly, silently, whisper a roar just like Tarzan, who handled them all by the score, who wrestled with some and raised others as pets (not hindered by teachers or hunters or nets). Right here in this room, the boys’ necks neatly tied, they felt jaguars and muskrats and others allied, all posed in attacks with their mouths opened wide, a delight which a playground could not have supplied! They stayed and they played and they had no regrets since the lectures they heard, full of facts and vignettes, would bedazzle their ears, fill their minds with great lore like “The Call of the Wild” just a few years before. The creatures up close made the stories seem real (the lecturer’s coon-skin cap sealed the deal) and though they discovered tall tales aren’t all true, they each chose a book to enhance what they knew. Their assignment: to read, then to put into writing a story of fiction or fact for reciting to younger boys, those in grades four, three, and two, to show education was fun to pursue. Class photos showed fauna with boys still as sticks as they hovered intently like moths at lit wicks.
The image is in the public domain. Though some of the boys may be blind, some are wearing glasses. The image below is from this link:
Excerpts from The American Museum of Natural History: https://slate.com/human-interest/2014/12/history-of-blind-education-photos-of-tactile-classes-at-the-american-museum-of-natural-history.html
“The photo is one of two by H.S. Rice, and some by others, included in the article Blind Kids’ Experiences at the Early-20th-Century Museum of Natural History, in Photos.”
“In this group of photographs taken between 1914 and 1927, students who were blind or had diminished eyesight partook of special instruction at New York’s American Museum of Natural History.”
A Rube’s Cubicon
The cube is your space; it’s a very small place where you bury your face (sometimes hide your disgrace), though there’s no place to pace, ’cause there’s not enough room in your tomb. Yet, the keyboard and monitor, often in place, are there for décor, right across from no door, so it doesn’t look bare like the one over there and cause people to stare or to care, should they dare. Then, of course, there’s a chair (if they’re treating you fair), and perhaps a name-tag so we’ll all know who’s there. Cat photos for flair on a calendar where you can zoom to count days of your gloom. But, having worked long enough, once you’ve done enough stuff and grown just enough older, much wiser and bolder, you might get your wish ’fore you sleep with the fish, to take leave of your cubicle and cross your Rubicle.
Fumbling On the Keyboard When the Net is Down
When your net has died, sure, you’ve cried. When each test you’ve assessed has not progressed, then woe infests, slowly digests, hopelessness rests heavy on your brow for you know, somehow, life has paused for now. Motionless, your prow cannot lead your scow through the dark storm, back to the norm where contacts form your social swarm. All alone— but don’t groan. Remember, you still own a phone.
Ken Gosse usually writes short, rhymed verse using whimsy and humor in traditional meters. First published in First Literary Review–East in November 2016, since then in The Offbeat, Pure Slush, Parody, Home Planet News Online, Sparks of Calliope and others. Raised in the Chicago, Illinois, suburbs, now retired, he and his wife have lived in Mesa, AZ, over twenty years.