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At Borders

I’m at Borders eating an 89 cent PayDay while writing an essay for entrance into a $30,000 grad school program I probably can‘t afford.  I’ve devoted all my time as of late in preparation: writing, fine-tuning,  going over my portfolio (ten best pages of poetry).  The premier low residency programs in the country will read my work (much of it written in this bookstore).  And if they like it, I’ll be a part of one.  And if they don’t…
I’ve written a poem about the man outside playing the guitar.  I thought he was another wannabe musician the way he intently strummed his guitar, like a desperate, unemployed, proud breadwinner scratching a lottery ticket awaiting a needed pay day.  Turns out he’s a respected lawyer and already has one. I’ve thought about showing him the poem.  Maybe he’d write a song about me. “Sir.  This is a poem I wrote about you.  You might like it.” I haven’t been able to muster up the courage.  But that might be too weird all the way around.
Initially I wrote this all down with a pencil, instead of typing.  It feels more natural, but harder to read.  Kinda’ good though.  Gives it character.  The brand of the pencil is PayDay.  I’ve never heard of that brand.  Though not as flashy, it works as well as a Ticonderoga.  But I kinda’ like generic brands. Gives it character.
I saw a former colleague here earlier tonight.  She’ll retire in two years. Wants to live in a faraway house without grown kids, and maybe a goat neighing out back.  Where the sun is like an eternal smile, and the faint clouds’ afterthoughts seeping out of serene temples.  How many papers she’s graded in her life, how many she’s “accidentally lost.” I wonder how much longer I’ll be teaching before my last well-deserved pay day.Payday is no longer needing to hope…
The little Asian woman is leaving.  Earlier I asked her if I could sit at her table for use of the coveted outlet so I could plug in my netbook and write about this night.  She mumbles to herself.  Naturally, I think she may be a poet too.  She munches on mixed nuts, much louder than her delicate physique implies.  But I know she envies me, crunching on cashews desiring my PayDay.
What is one’s “pay day?” Is it entrance into a prestigious grad school? Winning the lottery?  Retiring in two years?  Or is it ditching computer keys embracing the familiar feel of the number two, character driven illegible letters, composing rants with little chance of becoming font.  Is it what we need… want?

I just hope I get in.  I hope I get financial aide.  I hope grad school has good candy bars in the vending machine.



About Daniel Romo

Author of Apologies in Reverse (FutureCycle Press, 2019), When Kerosene's Involved (Mojave River Press, 2014) and Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013). I'm partial to prose poems. Alliteration. And fragments.

3 responses »

  1. Have faith, take loans, good luck!

    (Also, PayDay is much better as a candy bar than a board game.)

  2. I haven’t figured this one out quite yet but i will


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