Grad School Late Night

12am, my usual quitting time, when the
Cherry Coke has run out and I’m done
munching on plain M&M’S, and whatever
I’m writing or reading starts to repeat over
and over, telling me the night is complete.

But sometimes I have to push the clock back
mix water in with the caffeine and sugar, stay
hydrated, which leads to bathroom, me walking
empty hallway corridors after 2am, maze of fluorescent
lit academia, everyone else sleeping, sleeping.

I turn off my ghosts are real imagination
and focus on whatever I’m thinking about,
Ambrose O’Higgins or some other obscure figure
from South America’s past, when turning the corner
on my way back to study, he screams, I scream.

A freaked out bearded janitor and me like looking into a
mirror seeing myself older with blotchy skin, but same
expression of holy mother of, until we both figure it out and
smile, laugh in fright, then wordlessly walk past each other
into the building’s vacant night.