Poetry/Short Fiction

Lonesome ESL Teacher

The Ramblings of a Lonesome ESL Teacher

8 months. 8 months of something. Well, they’re over now and you check your watch but the months are really small, almost as if a man shouldn’t live by the measure of 12. But I do, dammit. 8 down and 2 to go, 2 and a half if ya count summer, and then it’s done, for what it’s worth, which probably isn’t much cos it starts again. I have survived until this point; it’s absurd because I can’t even remember what February looked like, and now it’s May, the darling buds of, and the flowers are abloom and the workers ablaze, San Isidro lowers buckets down wells for his son and little Timmy, quenching my thirst in the process but I drop – nay, spill – some drops and it muddies the faces of my knock-off Rolex from the Rastro – yes, the Rastro, the Nolex – and the months obscure and conflate into dripping second hands spinning around the circumference like a water wheel, making, baking corn and my beard is yellow, ripe and ready to harvest with the blade, the chin of baby, it grows again.


Time is glacial and it moves as if it’s ferrying the entire population of polar bears on a sliver of a polar cap, no expiration date inked underneath but if there were, that looming endpoint would be 70% of the matter. Anyhow, I write on the white whiteboard with the black of the black marker; I smudge my finger and carry it with me, luckily I caught myself going with the grain, not against it. Hallelujah. The mop of the cleaner bounces up in the next room, over the partition and against the glass connecting wall to ceiling, like an idea suddenly forming and breaking across the waves of chairs and ages and people and levels of boredom and interest, of alertness, knowledge and son-of-a-bicho, I am here, lemme talk ya son-of-a-gun but ya clammed up cos it was too difficult, even though it really wasn’t. The mop washes things away, and so does the idea, which keeps the persistent imminence of disaster at bay. For now. Show kept on the road.

lonesome esl teacher

Oreo Dystopia.

The ESL man’s questions are the arena where the ESL-eed talks about whatever they wanna talk about, each enquiry a test of how an already fabricated reality perception piece can absorb whatever is gonna come out of your mouth, which does mean that Simon the Sheep is a cypher for separatists to advance cultural Marxism and the hegemony of cinnamon and Oreos – who’s the guy that said those things had to be everywhere? Who’s the top man that said, in his nice clothes that Shakespeare had to get inside ya, and not another one? Apologies to all the CEOs, CFOs, and PAs – and, while we’re at it, to British Petroleum, United Nations, the NBA’s MVP – but I made paper planes out of the formal emails and bedamned were the informal ones, not fit for purpose, grounded and shelved. We spent far too much time, convincing and not being convinced that Seneca was useful in the boardroom. Ah screw it, here’s 5 phrasal verbs with ‘up’, startin’ with fed up.

Of the People, the Man.

I’m Aristotle and Alexi is great, a grand wee fella, for closing the Anderson account, file it under well done, slap on the shoulders, the posterior, and that greatness manifests itself as red eyes and a laughed out admission – no, I didn’t do the homework; sure, ya’ve been B1 for 3 years, and if you really think about it and press upon the issue, the 1 becomes a ! and we both realise we’ll have to tell HR you’re a B1.7 and you’re really close to B2, but before that we’ll both sigh with relief that I haven’t murdered ya cos Jeff Dahmer went mad after shaking too many hands and his brain buzzed until it broke; apart from your new found appreciation for the fragility and beauty of life, you’ve learnt something, right, buddy old bean? We’ve been in the trenches together, now let’s meet once a year and remember how terrible it all was and we’ll sing our songs, from the ABC of Sesame Jackon through the obligatory Molly Malone before we end up, exhausted, at the feet of a folk song from some village that manages to mean something.

And remember…

Listen to the latest episode of our podcast, where we discuss fading languages and the power of literature in the modern world. You can also read another work of short fiction.

Thank you for reading the lonesome ESL teacher.

lonesome esl teacher

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