Color by Number by Jennifer Schneider

Teachers said I’d be okay,
if I follow the rules.
No turnstile jumping.
No jaywalking.
Perfect change for bus fares.
No hoodies. No song.
No fights for my name,
nor my girl’s.
Walk straight. Down the corridor.
No crossed lines.
Life. A color by number book,
with no directions.
My life. In scribbles.
Teachers said I’d be okay,
if I stay in line.
Use their sharpened #2’s,
Ballpoint BICs,
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green Crayola.
My box. Full of chips of cracked
colored wax. Unfamiliar hues.
Burnt orange. Brick red. Deadwood brown.
No rules. No straight lines.
My life. In scribbles.
Court clock strikes noon.
Jury returns. Briskly.
Worn and wrinkled hands,
holding power far beyond
the physics of time, rise and fall.
Wooden gavel drops. Quickly.
Jury speaks. Guilty.
I focus and stare.
Refusing to blink.
Eyes swell. Tears drop.
Time stops. Then moves. Slowly.
My life. In scribbles.

Jennifer Schneider

Jen Schneider is an educator, attorney, and writer. Her work appears in The Coil, The Write Launch, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Popular Culture Studies Journal, Unstamatic, One Sentence Stories, and other literary and scholarly journals.

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