The Jester

Artwork by Catherine Cha.

“what’s your name?”

my brain starts grinding to bits.

the smell of coffee never seemed so bitter.

the line grows so does my audience.

first, comes the beating. it shakes you like the building drum in a horror movie, the one before the monster gets you like your father’s feet as he pounds up the stairs to get you for dinner; an impending wave ready to wash away your whole existence.

second, comes the tightening. the strings in your voice box bundle together

like friends at a party who never wanted you there in the first place. the same ones who will ask you your name,

and not like the sound of it.

churning intestines,

the smell of coffee cannot ease.

whirlpool of acid ready to spill out your name.

blocked by a pulling curtain.

spill the coffee on my shirt better yet throw it on my face the boils on my mouth can be my voice’s excuse

* * *

legs

shake body

shakes feet

shake

the worst?

your brain,

knows the outcome like someone watching the show a second time the show must go on, and I, the jester Will turn the lyre in preparation for the big show the show will go on these are the roles to be filled with greater purpose.

and my role, as customer, will be funny.

the best part?

you don’t even know there is one.

I open my mouth

strings, pulled curtain, closing confusion sounds in the audience. they paid for a ticket, and no show?

“what’s your name”

you ask again

swallow pause breathe

block.

you laugh.

“did you forget?”

* * *

swallow. pause. breathe.

I give him my initials instead.

the drink?

not worth the trouble.