The Lunchtime Incident


he perpetrator moves through the lunch line,
dining only a secondary concern.
When the fiend nears the condiments and silverware:
the true objective occurs
surreptitiously, hardly noticeable:
whole handfuls of napkins are scooped from the stainless steel holders;
nestled in waistband under the tent-like shirt.

Just before the next-period bell,
the thief runs unseen
to the top of the sophomore hall staircase, where he doesn’t belong,
breathing heavily, adrenaline spiking.

The mob of noisy adolescents echo in the stairwell,
hundreds of napkins snow down onto the perplexed students.
W.T.F. ! ? !

The Napkin Beast strikes again !

*[ WSB ].

*Beginning of /Ulysses/ by James Joyce [verse alteration]



plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairs,
bearing a bowl of lather;
a mirror and a razor lay crossed.
A yellow dressinggown, halfdoffed
gently behind him: the mild morning air.
The bowl aloft, he intoned:
— Introibo ad altare Dei.
Coarsely he called up | down the dark winding stones :
— Come up, Kinch ! You fearful Jesuit, come pray.

Solemnly forward, mounting the gunrest round,
he blessed gravely thrice:
the tower, surrounding country, awaking mounts.
Catching sight of Stephen Dedalus;
bent, he made rapid crosses in the air,
gurgling his throat, shaking his reason.
Dedalus, displeased and sleepy, leaned
arms on the top of the staircase, looked
coldly; the shaking gurgling face, blessing —
equine length, untonsured hair:
pale oak.

Mulligan peeped under the mirror, a stroke;
covered the bowl smartly.
— Back to barracks ! sternly.
[Preacher’s Fashion]:
— For this, O dearly beloved; the genuine
Christine: body and soul and blood and ouns.
Slow music, please. Shut your eyes, gents.
One moment.
A little trouble about those corpuscles ashen.

Silence, all.


*[Paraphrased from: “Ulysses” — James Joyce]

*[ WSB ].