patrick henry bruce
Stanton MacDonald-Wright, Raigo, 1955.
Morgan Russell, Synchromist Still Life, 1910
Morgan Russell: Still Life Color Study (c. 1915) Watercolor, Montclair Art Museum
I work at a high school. The assignment was for the kids to write their own Hero’s Journey after watching Jaws and reading The Odyssey. I told them I could write a Hero’s Journey about anything after listening to them bitch and moan. “Someone who has to poop!” Challenge accepted. Here is the result. Sorry for the long scroll, bad rhymes, and off meter.
Release The Kracken: Odyssey No. 2
Sing to me of the student, Admin, the boy of Mountain Dew & Flaming Hots
Driven time and again away from his destined spot.
I speak, Oh gods of Bran & Fiber, of his favorite bathroom stall.
Many a stall he tried and many a hall
Pass denied and many a stomach cramp suffered
And many a companion lost to reeking winds released without buffer
Before brave Commodius was able to sit
And take a…Dear Reader, let us not the Admin abuse with crude words, I think you get
My gist. All got and lost to use the stall all used
But the boy alone who fortune abused-
His heart set on that stall, the one in the back,
Where he can be alone and release his attack.
When the old bell clanged with his brassy bones
Once more young Commodius sprang forth alone
With time enough to visit his favorite stall with stealth
filled with his breakfast table’s wealth.
Commodius, the great defiler of stalls, launched
Into the shining hallway to read tales of raunch
Etched into bathroom walls. There is nothing grander
Or better when ease and joy hold hands
To sit, release, and read grand
Epics of who to call for a good time.
But now probing, bitter pains most sublime,
The like that only the Gods have borne,
So he weeps and grieves, it seems all forlorn.
Well then, Commodius will go to the first
Bathroom found to relieve this dire contrast to thirst.
A freshman island of rest he first came
Upon pushing his way ahead of a lame
One named Cicone. Before he could drop
And squat in the fluorescent haze a cop,
Officer of Safety, stepped in and loomed
Over our frustrated one, half unpeeled, who leapt from certain doom,
Massive and sinewy as the cop was, Commodius wheeled past
And escaped the freshman island, still unrelieved, alas.
The Lotus Eaters
Nine whole minutes he ran, borne along
The student infested halls. Then a wrong
Turn brought him to the Snack Cart
Eaters, who with blood shot eyes, harbor a taste for tart
Candies, soda, and chips. Harmless, smiley, slow,
\and smelling like smoke. He knew he had to go.
The One-Eyed Giant’s Cave
When the old bell clanged once more,
With brassy bones, Commodius spied a door
Ajar. Oh, what a place to pick-
Principal Richard’s private oasis- with a click
He closed the door. Exploring this den
Commodius saw a problem then…
A single urinal only, not even a sink.
Set into the wall a picture of cheese. Quick, think,
Cramped Commodius, what can you do
If you can’t even…using the urinal you’ll rue.
At least relieve one problem you have
Relieve your bladder like a salve
Rubbed into tired muscle.
The door burst open to the hustle
Of students bleating like sheep
Principal Richard has returned to his keep.
The heart inside Commodius shook
Terrified by his monstrous look
And with what Commodius had in hand
He had to make a final stand.
“Who are you?” grumbled the brutal heart.
“I am Somedude!” Commdius cried and turned with a start,
And as if some God breathed enormous courage and aim,
An amber flow flew right into the monster’s eye. A golden flame
Round and round the monster’s eyes, a golden ax
Blinding the beast who screamed, “Help! I’ve been attacked!”
A teacher knocked on the door, “What ails thee
Principal Richard?” “Somedude has peed on me!”
He replied, hands over his eyes. As the door opened
Bloated Commodius ran by the broken
Principal and rejoined the teeming tide
Of students whose currents he did ride.
The Bag of Winds
He reached the room of Mr. Zephyr
As bold announcements the air pepper
“Somedude report to the office! Somedude report to
the office!” Just as loudly the stew
in his belly rumbled. He tightened
his belt of ox-hide and frightened
he’d let loose he bound
himself tighter still and just around
the corner he spied
his goal just within heroic stride.
The bathroom with the glorious stall
He dreamed and preferred above all.
Bumped from behind his belt slackened
And his vision blackened
As he let loose
From his dank caboose
Winds of such force blew him far
From his favorite stall, smelling like tar,
He grit his teeth and bore it, hiding his face
He went to Bio and maybe a hall pass’ grace.
Just as swollen Commodius was about to enter,
The richest girl in school, running an errand for the Center
Office, told him he was wanted by the Principal,
And reaching into her Hermes bag a traditional
Excuse from class she flourished. Entering the realm of scientific discussion,
Filled with fetal pigs ready for student dissection,
The teacher demanded he get cutting
He won’t pass the class for nothing.
Obstructed Commodius gave the pass to Mrs. Kirk who tasked
Our costive hero with first a gymnasium delivery of Gatorade casks.
“Give them only to Coach Tiresias and no other,
Not a student, not a teacher, not even your mother.”
Unable to say no, or even speak at this point
Our sweating Commodius agreed , still afraid he’d his pants anoint
With what he was at great pains to keep hid
Out the door he quickly slid.
Journey to the Underworld
And down he came to the parquet’s edge
He hauled and lugged the sunlit casks he did pledge,
In black need, to deliver even if his guts did fail
To hold in due to the shame failure would entail.
Streaming tears and weighed down with anguish
And knowing he couldn’t languish
He poured the pride of Coke, filling a golden cup
And prayed for the coach to take it up.
Flocking toward burdened Commodius the jocks
Of ball and stick with muscles like rocks,
Great teams of varsity, junior or not,
Sweaty, hairy, smelly, and hot
Thirsty for the Gator’s ichor
Now arrayed on the gym floor.
I told them they could use the water fountain
To slake their thirsts large like a mountain.
At last he came, the wizened coach holding a golden whistle,
Wearing shorts too short and shirt too tight with bristles
Of hair here and there on back and front.
He was unsightly, to be blunt.
Commodius saluted and ran out the back hallway
Knowing the danger that exists there every day.
The Siren, Scylla and Charybdis
The bell clanged his brassy bones and Commodius strode
down the hall holding his stomach with back bowed
against mysterious heaving swells
and then he heard an inner voice promising hell:
“Distended Commodius stop holding your black craft,
I know the pains you feel like shafts
of fire through your guts.
Release, let go, just let one cut
set you free
no one here can see.”
The ravishing voice echoed in his brain
and his heart throbbed as he almost gave in to the pain
and loosed the bonds that lashed him.
He was saved but lost to grim
thoughts as he heard the booming
laugh of further doom
ahead of him. This was the hallway of arm punches or
wedgies and he stumbled into their hall for
he could not turn back. One one side six
arm punches he would suffer, the other cliques
of wedgie givers would make him lose all
he held in a churning, horrid ball.
Threading his way through the narrow straits
one step too far one way would cause a fate
worse than death and shrinking from the worse
of two fates he felt the stinging curse
of six blows on his shoulder. Bruised and battered
Commodius made it through, his will unshattered.
Washed into the shores of the principal’s office he begged
and pleaded for a pass to the lav but he was pegged
as the student “Somedude” and he would never
leave the office without confessing his clever
ruse. “Please take a seat.” “I can’t,” replied
the turgid hero who moaned and groaned
and saw no escape. “You may go,” intoned
the grey eyed principal’s assistant, Edwina,
“It wasn’t you.” To his favored arena
Commodius sped at last, fortune favored,
strong of stride, and purpose that will never waver.
So he entered. He obeyed his heart
and pacts of peace fell out, with a thunderous start.
Upon the walls what did he see,
“For a good time, call Penelope.”
Junker 1, 2009
Oil on canvas
84.625 x 90.5 inches
214.9 x 229.9 cm
Landscape with Yellow House (1907)