In the Ballcrawl

Floating Ladders3
By J.D. Isip

The best years of my life I spent a rat
Hired for three summers to be Chuck E. Cheese
After the second time I applied
After my friend, Cody, put in a good word—
Cody is white.
I slipped into a matted gray body suit.

The best years of my life I spent a rat
Happy to token my group, happy to Franklin
Our Peanuts gang on campus
And in all the pictures
I was never white.
The suit always smelled like the last Chuck E.

The best years of my life I spent a rat
Cody was my best friend and I hated him
So much that I wanted nothing more
Than to be him.
Outside fluff, inside the ripe sweat of hours.

The best years of my life I spent a rat
Ratting along the intricate
Labyrinthine tunnelry of angst
And rat rage.
I wore a hollow head.

The best years of my life I spent a rat
Watching him through eyes
Of rude-cut metal mesh
Scraping my inner face raw.
Giant rat hands that felt nothing…

The best years of my life I spent a rat
Capable of scrounging up
A meal, but happy to leftover,
Crumb, swallow up –
Shuck and jive in the ballcrawl.

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