The Green Carpet by James H Duncan

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The Green Carpet

It was in a waiting room of chipped plastic tables full of
wrinkled copies of Highlights magazine and cardboard
flip-books about bears flying in hot air balloons, the
scent of alcohol and Lysol. These children here are bald
or soon will be and I run my hand through my own hair,
find bloody fingertips, red robins in flight through my
very flesh, flying away and away and away. Opening my
eyes and counting my inhale/exhale, I see that the carpet
here is lime green, shag, just like the green carpet where
the small children of Green Meadow Elementary sat in
the library, 1985, ‘86, ‘87…we read books about
dinosaurs and planets and gigantic men who chopped
trees in days gone by alongside blue oxen. There were
books of women who flew planes and disappeared, and
of ghosts who haunted castles, books of egghead
professors with childish brain games, and books of
children who had troubles just like the troubles we had
at home or in our classrooms, on the bus, with bullies,
siblings, nightmares, parents who disappeared, feelings of
isolation, feelings. None of them had the troubles we had
when we grew up though, or the troubles the bald
children here have discovered. Publishers and sales reps
probably don’t like tallying such figures. Back then,
Letter People lined the walls and a TV with Ramona
played on rainy days. There were book club sales, book
reports, and wooden chairs lined up along the wall,
straight and small. All of us sitting on the green carpet. I
believe the rain still falls on the windows there, while
kids here grow old, fall down, their eyes drifting against
the wash of a television glow in hospital rooms and daybeds,
their blood and marrow melting, betraying,
hounding them, the pages of their stories thinning out
and fading blank. And then someone calls my name so I
rise and walk across that green carpet to see how many
pages my own story has left.

James H Duncan

James H Duncan is the editor of Hobo Camp Review, a writer-at-large for The Blue Mountain Review, and the co-host of the Troy Poetry Mission reading series. His work has appeared in Writer’s Digest, Up The Staircase Quarterly, American Artist, Pulp Modern, Poetry Salzburg Review, Drunk Monkeys, Five:2:One, and other publications. His latest book We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine (in which the poem “The Green Carpet” appears) is now available from Unknown Press, and you can find it on Amazon and at