Joseph Franklin
2 min readNov 4, 2022

I grew up piss poor, but smart. There was this kid, across town, name of Elon. He had an elaborate tree house, the size of my actual house, and I hung out there with the other boys. It was a circular, elevated fort, wrapped around an 130 year old oak. It was truly beautiful. His dad was some kind of blood diamond broker.

I didn’t like Elon at all, no one did. But he had all the toys, so he was artificially popular. We all just played in the gargantuan tree house, nodding to, and abetting Elon’s fanciful stories about his family. It was a worthy tradeoff.

My dad planted this tree, one hundred years ago. I built this treehouse in two weeks. You know how you got up here? Yeah? My family invented the ladder, the elevator in fact. We invented those. And rope. We thought of ropes, first. Everything up here, I worked hard for, and earned.

Sometimes, friends hit their limit. Our ex-friend Teddy said Elon, no way that’s true. Next day, Teddy is stopped at the guard gate, at the base of the elongated cement driveway — your not on the list. Ted walked home, pissed, but validated. For it was Teddy’s dad who’d helped build the treehouse, over the course of two months, not two weeks. Teddy was a better man than I.

It got to the point where I was the only kid left.

My family are hooking up the electric to this tree house. We’ll be able to play Playstation. Did you know I invented electricity? Did you know that?

I did not.

Elon’s self-image became absurd.

My dad and grandpa were the first humans to breath oxygen. My family were the first from the ocean, the first to breathe air. Pretty impressive, yes? My dad talks to the president of the US, tells him the right moves.

Ok, Elon. Ok. I’m just going down the side. I’m just going to ignore you, this treehouse is too tremendous. But all my actual friends have left, and it is no longer fun. I hope Elon finds the humility he so desperately needs. But he never did, he just bought more and more treehouses.

Joseph Franklin

Poet; Quadriplegic; Rust Belt; Zen; Zazen; Pop Culture;