Steve Williams


In our windowless room
for the next three hours
we will sketch and re-sketch sketches
of Lester

who is perhaps fifty
sleeps at the rescue mission
and is obviously a patron of the art of beer.
I wonder what happened to cute Katie,
but our prof. will only say
she has moved on to a better gig
' perhaps not so naked.
We're not too upset though.
Even Les
is better than drawing one of the skeletons,

So, seven of us
swirl thirty-second gestures
of Les
who grabs a hilt from his bag of props,
announces with a goofy grin
that he's a knight as he and we
draw the naked sword.

Then, out comes a walking stick
soon to be a broom
and he's a janitor startled by a mouse.
The prof. shakes her head at my charcoal impression
as she passes behind me --
I never make it to the mouse.

Les is a river guide leaning on his stick.
I'm tempted to draw an oar instead.
By now, we'd all rather be seeing less
of Les.

Next, he lies back on his back
near a small buzzing heater.
The stop-watch clicks. We have twenty minutes
to pour ourselves into place at head or foot
and practice foreshortening.

From the bottom,
a scar curls across the left knee,
his feet are black with charcoal
and form a v-shaped gateway to genitals
that I mistake for my missing mouse
cuddled against the elephant of les's stomach.
I'm too busy to be frightened.

From the top,
a notch in the right ear,
a bald spot is a "Miller Time" twist-off cap --
his head so large, all that is visible
are the twin camel humps
of forehead and belly.

I back up too far, bump the glass case,
and the male skeleton lurches like a DUI,
and over in the closet, the female
sways her boney ass as if wishing
the glassed-in man would ask her
to samba.

A sound grows louder
that we mistake for the heater --
our minds too worried
at how the prof.
will ridicule our attempts
at Les --
our eyes and hands too frenetic to notice
that Les has drawn his last round
out of each of us
and has begun
to snore.

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