A student spoke of writing a sonnet, and I mentioned that I’d written some once, once upon a time. She sounded like she didn’t believe me, like this wasn’t something that she’d expect a math teacher to do. I said I’d written some villanelles, once, too. But I couldn’t tell her if I still had them, because as much of a packrat as I am, I’m a disorganized packrat.

In a closet in the house of my mother-in-law, now deceased, I found two cases that I used to use, as a small child, as a child the age my son is now, to keep all my homework papers. I thought I’d thrown them out years ago, and yet, here they are. I haven’t looked in them because it feels like it’s something I can put off for another few weeks. And I’m not sure I want to see. They’re Al Capone vault, and I know they will be far more boring than I remember.

Somewhere, I have a book I wrote when I was in first or second grade, about a dog that’s caught in a snowstorm, being hunted. Somewhere, I have a book I wrote when I was in middle school. In the back is a Polaroid of me in a turtleneck and a pretentious cap, with a pipe in my mouth. The pipe I’d borrowed from Stephan Vernier’s father.

Years ago, I found Stephan on the internet. He was living in the Netherlands. He didn’t seem to want to remember me. We had been best friends in middle school, but even though we hung out in high school, he pushed me away.

Yesterday, I found the villanelles. They’re twenty years old. I suppose I wrote them when I was on Grex, when the internet was still dial-up and text-based and innocent and weird, around the time that I was a selfish person who was so very content in his spiritual grime. And the people who only knew the outer layer thought I was a jester.

I think that’s how all jesters are.

I think I need to write another villanelle.

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