frank's problems

by Adam Selzer

Now, Frank had some problems.

First of all, Frank wanted, more than anything, to be an urban hermit, living in a tiny, one-room apartment in New York, going out now and then at night to read poetry and listen to jazz at coffee houses. But, since he didn't have a job, there was no way that he could afford an apartment. He had to live in a swamp, and walk to the city when he wanted to go out at night.

Also, Frank had always wanted to be a great yoga master. This, too was impossible, because Frank was an alligator. His short, stubby alligator legs made it impossible to get into the lotus position.

One day, after a long period of doing yoga exercises for his teeth and tail, he decided to take a trip out to the local jazz club, where there was an open-mic poetry night. Anyone could get up on stage an read some of their poems.

The walk to the city was long and rough. Frank had to try to avoid being seen, because people usually called the police when they saw an alligator walking around in the middle of town. Crossing streets wasn't easy, either.

"This would be so much easier if I had an apartment downtown," thought Frank, sadly. "Maybe soon, when I am Frank, The Famous Alligator Poet, I will be able to afford it." Frank was sure that one day, his poetry would make him rich and famous.

Frank finally arrived at his favorite hangout, The Ground Bean, and walked in the door.

"Got some poetry for us tonight, Frank?" asked the owner.

"A couple of things," said Frank, trying his best to appear moody and distant. "I'll have a triple espresso for now. With a long straw." Frank liked espresso, but had to drink it through a straw, because his arms wouldn't quite reach his mouth, even after all sorts of yogic exercises designed to make him more flexible. It was hard to look cool in front of all the other beatniks while drinking coffee through a straw.

First, a man all dressed in black read some poems about America, beer, and the military-industrial complex. Then, a girl who wore white makeup read a few poems about death, disease and despair. Finally, it was Frank's turn.

Frank crawled up to the stage using the ramp, and the man in black lowered the microphone down to floor level, so that Frank could use it.

Frank cleared his throat, took a deep breath, and read his poem.

"Crocodile Tears - by Frank The Alligator.
Swamp sun setting against mist. Birds are in my mouth again.
Ten million years and no change.
Why? Why? Why?
Cries, lies, rumors and spies. Where is the snow from last year?
Where did I put the remote? It is lost, and so am I.
Chomp. Chomp. Chomp chomp chomp slither. Crickets chip.
I am alone. I am I. I shout in the night for sadness.
And no one believes that my tears are real.
They think that I am a crocodile.
But I am not a crocodile. I am an alligator, and
my name
Alligator. So there. Chomp."

When Frank finished his poem, he waited for people to clap, but no one did.

Angrily, Frank walked off the stage, paid for his drink, and began the long walk through the city to his home in the swamp.

"That," thought Frank, "is my biggest problem of all. No one ever understands alligator poetry."