Counselor Emeritus





Introducing Mr. Kroschel




Mr. Kroschel came of age

In the fifties and sixties, not as a hippie,

But as an intelligent, awkward,

Relatively homely, gay man.


He is one of our ward counselors.

His gayness has long since

Stopped being a talking point,

But it is something we share.


He is retired, but consults ad hoc.

We talk about the kids, and here, please,

I must say something 

About calling the kids "kids." They don't like it.


No one likes it. But "patients" is wrong,

"children" is wrong, "youths" is silly,

"girl," "boy," "men," "women,"

"teens," "dudes," "hipsters," "emos,"


I don't know what to call them

Other than "kids," and so 

Mr. Kroschel, Eugene, and I talk about

The kids, gauging, understanding,


Finding the right approach for each . . . child.

There is an undercurrent

In all conversations with Eugene which makes him

Exceptionally empathetic,


And equally removed, distant, that is,

Of course, a result of the number of friends

And lovers in his life that died of AIDS.

That he is alive is luck and nothing more.


I don't know what defines people.

Surely this defines Mr. Kroschel to some degree.

Our conversations are thoughtful, quiet, rich with humor.

He has been a god-send for me. 


If such a thing is possible 

I have a crush on the man, for kindness

Has always gone a long way with me,

A kind word and I am yours,


And I take it where I find it.

Which makes me too sympathetic, no,

Too vulnerable, for this job. These kids

Are either looking for love, or pretending


That they can do without it. Either way,

I'm the Johnny Appleseed of love

On the ward, much to the amusement

Of the full time staff, they tend


To fall, easily and understandably,

Into the category of pragmatic.

I'm part-time, I walk away

At the end of my shift, and if I leave a bit


Of myself behind, it doesn't kill me.

Day in and day out, that would be different,

I would adopt Joanne's cavalier,

Too cool, attitude. At least I could try.


All this is to say, the world has treated 

Mr. Kroschel unfairly, that his grace

Under fire, and humor, have remained intact.

I could say it. I won't. He is, like all of us,


More complex than that. But,

Were I to say it, it would be accurate.

He is a graceful, kind, and warm-hearted man,

And to the extent possible, the kids love him.










Poetry by one trick pony The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 401 times
Written on 2015-07-17 at 13:36

dott Save as a bookmark (requires login)
dott Write a comment (requires login)
dott Send as email (requires login)
dott Print text

Jamsbo Rockda The PoetBay support member heart!
He sounds like just the ticket for the place you describe. He has known life and loss and all the interesting things in between. Interesting :)

It is such a pity when a person of so many talents and with abilities and kindness is marginalized by one label. Even though I get the feeling that your Counselor Emeritus did find his place in that institution where he could be accepted, as not one of its residents didn't consider himself/herself a "freak." Or rather a misfit. "Children, kids," yes, that's what they secretly want to be called. To be accepted as 'children,' is a secret joy. There is so much to be learned from people and some can take so much from you in their need. A careful balance that must be kept in these places. You have both an empathetic and an analytical mind to write this series. Well done.