There’s a nice balance in John Engler’s story, currently titled “The First Day of Something,” between moments of humor and stretches of sincerity. The educator has an epiphany that he’s not completing the mission he set out on and undertakes the first steps of a journey to get himself back on course. It’s a really nice concept; many people start out their goals with the best of intentions but get dirtied on the way by expectations and systems and what-have-you. I’m always impressed by people who realize they can do better than meet standard. I also love the wit in this piece. In the first bit John looks over the room and sees people. He bothers to care about them, and cares about them to laugh a bit about their idiosyncrasies. It’s charming. People should be able to enjoy each other like this story enjoys them.
“And if i’m lucky some student will…point out…how they feel like mindless drones in a soulless maze of someone else’s system, packaged in an intimidating apparatus of GPA’s and graduation requirements.
…Maybe that student will overstate it a bit.
But I know there’s a certain truth behind the exaggeration.”
Also keep listening to hear some cute and equally sincere love poems.
Lisa Roullard reads poems along a theme that she’s collecting for a book called “The Mailman in the Forest.”
You know, I really like mail. I like the way the box smells, ink and paper, and I like waving at the people delivering mail, if I see them–but really, that world is a ghost to me. I don’t think about mail except for a few minutes a day when I go through it. So, you know, there’s apparently a universe of “delightfully absurd” things you can say about mail delivery. Lisa Roullard’s poems have an almost spiritually quiet feeling, like you’ve entered a realm of myths through a mailbox. Here’s some of my favorite lines.
“A bird walks underwater, upstream.”
“For sunken ships, no responsibilities remain.”
On the intimacy of being a stamp: “Before the mailman, before the recipient, the letter writer set eyes on my gentle electric scene and saw what my artist saw, felt what isn’t shown, sunlight on shoulders, and thought of the one he’d written…then pressed fingers against me.”
On the kinetics of being a dog: “Liquid leaps…a self commanded up and he was into a space that almost wasn’t…greyhound of angles, four paw pivot, a vertical disappearance…he unhinges, expands; very proper, his origami…”
On the tranquility of being a mailbox: “I am suited to this solitude, this stillness…I’ll be a nest or a harbor, galvanized…Single wing of a bird, my flag.”
Delightfully absurd indeed.
-Jessica, your friendly neighborhood Helicon Blogger