Jimmy Pappas

Crazy John

We called him Crazy John
because his epileptic
seizures caused his eyes
to roll in his head
as he moaned
with clenched teeth.

At an assembly once,
the teacher made me
sit by him so we could
fill in every seat.

In the middle of a speech
by the principal,
he had a seizure
and drooled on me.

The rest of the day,
I laughed about how
Crazy John
gobbed on my pants.

Later that evening,
while I was walking with
my friends, he greeted me
with a rotten-toothed smile
as if he were my best buddy.

I watched him walk
into the front door
of an apartment building
we used to call
the Puerto Rican ghetto.

He opened the door
by the window
that all year long had
one red Christmas bulb,
an open invitation
to all takers.


Jimmy Pappas served in Vietnam during the war training South Vietnamese soldiers by teaching them English so they could work with American helicopter pilots. He retired from teaching at Somersworth High School in New Hampshire where he created the greatest accomplishment of his life: a popular philosophy class.  Jimmy Pappas won the Rattle Chapbook Contest with Falling off the Empire State Building, won the Rattle Readers Choice Award for “Bobby’s Story,” and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Rattle for “The Gray Man.” He now moderates a weekly themed Zoom event called “A Conversation with Jimmy and Friends” that encourages audience participation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *