There are 500 students.
They will each say ten kind things by a certain date and if they do, they will have won The Kindness Challenge.
Because they are humans, even though they are children, they are trying to do it as fast as they can.
I myself can only think of facts.
Because I am a mother, even though I am a cow, I let my son sit by himself under the cork tree and be happy.
The fact is that real things are mixed up with imaginary ones. So all the more real.
There are 496 students.
To be a real estate developer is to be in communion with nature. You want that to be wrong, but I’ve thought about this. To be a banker is to value the seventh generation. It’s “value” that’s been misconstrued.
To be the victim of violence is to be separate from it, and inexorably linked.
All living things and non—made for human consumption.
This isn’t true, but since you live this way, it is.
There are 491 students.
At the lake, the river people say this is okay.
It would be better if it were moving.
Maybe we should be still.
It is a comfort to stay bored.
It’s why cud was invented.
There are 483 students.
Your office mate has a nose-whistle, but it is starting to feel like demons. Sunshine streams vigilantly through the cubicles. All of your freckles are the exact shape and size of ticks. But worse, you’d say they are “fleshy.”
You check the box marked “nostalgia for pavilions.”
You check the box marked “glory holes in abandoned department stores.”
You’re so comfortable here, except for the heightened tick vigilance, basking in the gloss and burble of the water feature. Bit of rebar straining out of faux rock like stitches on a wound the skin’s closed up around.
There are 479 students.
You’ve heard that people hate Geminis, which really hurts your feelings, and your other feelings, too. That’s cow humor. We don’t understand astrology, but we do make a point of facing directly to the magnetic north or south while grazing.
Your neighbors can tell by your yard you are the kind of people who don’t want to know the genders of your children.
You don’t want to write this poem, its symmetries too too.
The child asks to play orca whales.
You are his mother.
You carry him swimming on your back, through the chlorinated lazy river, bright bright, blue blue.
There are 478 students.
Flowers make us happy. In this poem, you will only say true things.
Like, no one knows jack shit.
Like, if a person is adopted by an animal, then they have a chance.
You think I don’t know what “ruminate” means.
There are 475 students.
You sip a tea of Icelandic moss and say, the cost of living increase is relative to the cost of not dying, hear a sound like a whale in agony.
There are 474 students.
People are full of knees, especially in bed.
It is possible your mom knows you, has always known you, knew you before you had a consciousness, and you just won’t let that be true.
I don’t even have bullets. I don’t even have a trigger, the back seat laments, and it is also difficult to let them know you.
There are 469 students.
No one can see out their eye holes.
Squinting into the opaque bus windows. Wavingwavingwaving at whomever.
By the time you walk home, there are 465 students.
You don’t need me to tell you what the facts are.
Remember, I am his mother, and a cow.
When she leaves she leaves the potatoes and a phone charger. When you go you leave a T-shirt and socks. You mean to leave your running shoes. She means to leave her flip-flops. You go and she goes and you go and she goes.
The banderilleros are getting mad. And the picadores are getting madder. And the matador is so mad he is crying, because he can’t show off with his cape and his sword.
A man with a hat reminds you of someone. Hey, you say, hey!You give the man a thumbs-up. But it’s just a trucker hat, some other logo. Still, you loved him for a minute.
There are 458 students.
The portrait of a marriage is a creek, partially dormant in winter. An ice alligator, a plunger provided, gratis.
You ask me how I know all this. I am looking at you with my big, dumb eyes.
You are rule-oriented and wearing your dissidentshirt to the alternative health care provider. It’s too hot, but don’t take your sweater off here.
You only wear it for a layer underneath. For home chores, for weekends. You’re a dissidentin the garden, shelling peas.
There are 443 students.
You have spurned your lover in the gravest of ways. Didn’t realize how much you would talk about grappling hooks, and tonight, you have chosen a biography over sex.
The portrait of a marriage is a rest stop to change the diaper. Back on the highway you have forgotten to pee.
My kind is red-green blind; a bull charges a matador’s cape for the movement. Much like a gunman.
Or is this the bull-in-the-china-shop metaphor?
How should I know?
There are 441 students.
When the phone rings in the dead of night you run across the street like you’ve been training for it. All these miles for a dead sprint to the neighbors’. See how you repeat yourself? But they’re alive.
The blood in the toilet. The trail down the hall. The diapers, half the size of your phone.
You are trying to say “mama” and know what that means.
There are 439 students.
When you know you can’t say it and when you say it you don’t know.
There are 429 students.
The light is golden and the trees are lit from within. In autumn, you feel beloved by the earth, all its inhabitants, for entire afternoons, sometimes.
What is the sustenance as large as our grief.
And which is the stomach for it.
Coexisting seems a low goal.
There are 424 students.
A little brown dog walks the path below your window. You’re looking forward to sleeping here, your astral-self projecting into the canopy.
Crows shit midair, and they’re shaped like birds, so of course they can fly. You look up to them, looking down on them, you’re on the fourth floor.
Your desk is black and warm in the sun, but wind drifts through anyway. Planes on various flight paths, and one drags a banner through the sky.
There are 412 students.
Any pleasure is not small—it’s been a long time since you’ve thought, and it feels good to be above people, quieting the servant in you.
Thought you’d bare your breasts; let the wind just whittle them away.
The sun has cooled, a gray wash on the black desk and your thighs are blotchy and goose-bumped. The windowsill is lined with treasures, chrysanthemum rocks and other special ones.
The people—how their necks are bent, and freighters swim like cows in the sound.
There are 409 students.
The facts, the facts, the facts.
I say this as his mother. He was happy as a child. In the flowers.
There is no such thing as conclusion.
This poem owes a debt of gratitude to The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.