When it does not smell worse, it smells like grade school:
like flannelette mittens that thaw and sweeten, clipped
to jackets’ elastic, uncouth cuffs. It smells like tile, like apple,
like loitering and like milk
poured down a drinking fountain.

Sometimes I sit here longer than need be, listening to altos sing
their laddered vowels inside the musical closets that they
call practice rooms. Brick and a vent carry them here,
these voices that must taste
of slurs and sharp honey.

Soon enough it will lift, this tenderness, this thing shy
of tenderness, cured by cork-boards that make the most of puns.
One features the college’s Music Staff, their cherubic faces
pasted onto the clubs of half-notes
fattening on the clef.

But in the meantime, before I stand up, doing up my pants,
I permit it, and it spreads, a glottal sadness occasioned
by my knees, by my holland pockets, and by my lap, pink
and creased and eyeleted by
a scar left after chicken pox.