This may have seen Mardi Gras once,
But neither king nor queen presides there now;
The royalty is stripped away
And what remains
Is verdigris mildew
And the faded tracings of cowards’ runnels.
Neither king nor queen
Will contend with what remains,
Kneeling in painful obeisance
Scouring away the growth
The stains of paint
Ruining the second joints
And the rest of the body
By using chemicals that are bad individually
And together, worse.
Sweeping out the detritus of wind and weather
And underage smokers
Hiding in the recess during their recess,
Crouching near the crawl space to get out of the wind and out of the teachers’ sight,
But there is no telling what is buried under pine needle and cigarette butt—
Condoms ill-used, perhaps, or a different needle than any tree’s—
Until the broom brushes by
Turning over what is there and whatever is there.
Perhaps a shovel would be better.
There is little reward for the janitor,
Too little remuneration gotten for the work that is done.
The janitor will not be treated well.
Those who come in,
Care for where we have been
After we have been there,
This is no surprise.
It has always been this way.
It likely always will.
Still, the cleaning has to happen.
Geoffrey B. Elliott
Stillwater, Oklahoma, United States of America