Charade by Christine Taylor


I got to work late
cat hair on my pants
sat down for the meeting
just in time,
coffee sloshed from the chipped
rim of my mug
the brown spot on my leg
a communion.

It’s too early to think
about the conversations
we should have had
with our students
with ourselves
the reasons why we didn’t talk
about the “travel” ban
about Charlottesville
about “taking the knee.”

Sitting around the circle
someone claims we need
to be inclusive
respect opposing views
not upset each other
not turn people off.

This is a privilege I do not have.
I check my watch.

And so it goes.

You know, when
Michael Brown
Eric Garner
Tamir Rice
Sandra Bland
Philando Castile
Say Their Names
were killed
we didn’t talk
about those times either,
morning announcements
as per usual
we filed in and out
of the auditorium
bake sales
and game-of-the-week
were all that mattered.

Cheer on the school team:
Go Big Blue!

I drove over a blue line
painted in the middle
of the yellow lines downtown.
I checked the rearview mirror.

I can’t breathe.

It used to be that I could tell you
whatever I was thinking:
Did he just say that Baldwin is not
a serious writer?!
Now, you’re one of them.

It has come to this.

You’re sorry I’m such an angry person
I’m sorry you’re not.



Yesterday, you played piano
at the street festival,
I watched your fingers on the keys
wondered how you could stand
the heat on stage
the sun baking white skin brown.
When the music ended
you looked delirious
sweat soaking your shirt.
I knew you were hungry.
Just then a ladybug
landed on my arm.
I looked in your eyes
and made a wish.

That night on your couch
your fingers in my hair
scrunching & separating
curls. Frizzy, wild—
you like it like that.
No one else ever has.

I actually slept through the night.



There are wildflowers in the garden now.

A pack of coyotes roams
the woods behind
the school building.
In the dark,
we hear them howl
while we’re camping.

On the grounds
we have honey-bees
and a flock of chickens.
We want to be “sustainable.”
The wolves stay inside.

There was a fire drill today.
We lined up according to plan:
alphabetical order
one good student
one good teacher
one behind the other
single file
so close, but not touching.
This arrangement keeps us safe.

But there are wildflowers in the garden now.



Insomnia claims most nights
the light from the streetlamp
sneaks through slatted blinds.
I hear my dog
in the basement
having a dream
his yelps and squeals
travel through heating ducts
to my bedroom.
I’ve seen this fit before:
his eyelids flutter
his paws twitch
he’s chasing a squirrel.

Or maybe he’s having a nightmare.




Christine Taylor resides in her hometown Plainfield, New Jersey, and is an English teacher and part-time librarian at a local independent school. Her work appears in Modern Haiku, Burningword Literary Journal, Menacing Hedge, and The Paterson Literary Review, among others. She can be found at


(Front page image via)

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