For at least three dog years
We did shams
And rolled the half-pipe
On the grounds of the club at night.
By day things changed
King grand at a time.
Before long notes came due.
So for a fine price
She suckled them to sleep
On sweet milk of amnesia.
– Blair Ewing
They contrive havoc in the shipyard, every day,
We're just out here rolling, setting up
Three rounds and a sound.
Now they make us make our brothers
Step down, and down again.
Sonny Hammett from Fayette County:
You left a grieving widow, Judith
Tried to stop you.
You found Misters Abbott and Gabelt
In the Quality Control Office and
Punched a sightless, bloodshot eye
In their foreheads.
Just like Roger the Dodger used to say:
They're cooking up new recipes.
Some of you will float to the top
And some, like sludge, drift to the bottom.
And some will just evaporate
Carried off by the steam rising up
From the bowels of the bank.
Uncooperative radical particle I
Stick to my guns like glue.
Defensive readiness is at a very high premium.
If only they had marked us all
Not just one
We could play defense as a team
And all of us would be captains.
– Blair Ewing
These seem papers
singed by fire
—documents left scattered
in a hectic retreat of
or the abandoned records
of an overthrown regime
Fear and pain
shimmer over the disorganized pages
hover above the words scratched along the slots
lined onto the white surface
flares in the ink
deposited frantically here
It is anger that matches my own
knuckle to knuckle
as I read the words
as my red pen
descends toward its victims
toward what is written
I have failed
to convince, to inform
Document your sources correctly
the red nib admonishes
You must provide examples
to show what you mean
The blue paragraphs
WE DID NOT ASK TO DO THIS
No one is listening
– Tom Wayman
Content with becoming unlike
the sea, he denies the past
and dust, puts in
long hours in an office. Yet
here, or nowhere, there are laws
chisels convinced stone of
and the storied mist,
beard of ancestor and beast. And what
but Where is Once or When?
would he expect them to demand
had they not as children known
whose fallen hand was raising them?
I'd like to apply for a job.
Yes, the job you have available;
my manner is most saleable
and I hope you'll find me suitable
for $5.15 an hour.
I really have the skills, you see,
I've been to university
and though I studied history
I've found my heart to truly be
in men's ties and socks/glass figurines/the discount shoe industry.
What makes me think I'd be good for this job?
um, I love working with people.
...and I love riding the subway an hour and a half each way;
let's see, add those hours to my day
and I'll be making a whopping $3.75 an hour!
oh, no — sir — I do want the job. Can't you tell by my suit?
No, actually, I don't own a dress;
I don't feel comfortable, I confess.
for $5.15 an hour
I'll endeavor to wear some colors other than black—
um, I enjoy working with the public, and I'm good with money...
Oh yes, you're right
all us girls are good with money—
yes, that's charming, yes, how funny.
You know, I like a good work atmosphere
where the boss says whatever he wants
and the rest of us just listen...
I'm a very fast learner
and I promise that if you give me this job
I'll be the perfect subhuman
and never let my contempt shine in my worshipping eyes!
I love working with people,
and let's see — what else was I going to tell you?
No, I don't expect vacation pay
and yes, I'm available every day
and though I don't like the evil way
you're looking at me, I've got rent to pay.
And yes, I can start on Saturday.
—© Meryn Cadell 1991
from the Sire/Reprise album ANGEL FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Passing billboards that proclaim — “Working together
to stimulate economic growth and job creation,”
Hearing over the radio — “Factories in orbit
flourishing, healthy, growing,”
Reading in the paper — “Declining job market
for trained elephants spells trouble,”
The interviewer appears again before me —
“Gaps in your work-record,
gaps in your work-record,
don't look good to us, Mr. Antler —
you don't expect us to believe
all those years you wrote
What could I say? What did I say?
“We've come from a nation in which one-sixth were slaves
to a nation 600 times larger in which
we are all slaves.”
“No doubt before long factories will be totally extinct.
We'll probably label factories an endangered species
and preserve one or two
for people to wander through
to remember what they were like.”
“Employer and employee, this is Pussysmell Fingertips speaking —
you knew all along, didn't you, work-ethic as cattleprod,
cemetery of timeclocks, vomitgas canisters
ready and waiting.”
Tell the work-ethic you'll live to shit on its grave
and have it regard it as a blessing,
a blessing and not a curse.
Why? Because, with a grin of chagrin —
salves rather than slaves,
peonies rather than peonage,
prisms rather than prisons,
surfboards rather than serfdom,
wild rice rather than tame rice,
meteors rather than meat-eaters,
violins rather than violence,
warble rather than war.
Rather than business as usual, loafing as usual.
Instead of the Misery Index throwing people out of work,
throwing the work-ethic out the window.
Instead of warhead payload,
Instead of warhead payload,
Children made angels in the snow
before the pyramids, before Stonehenge,
before Pleistocene creatures
were painted miles within on the walls of caves.
The Ghost Dance is still going on.
The Ghost Dance never died.
If Descartes had lived today
would he say —“I work, therefore I am”?
The Holocaust's cost — who will pay?
Roadkills in the Rearview Mirror?
Deathbed on Rollerskates?
Rubric of frolic and rollick and romp and roam
all with a gleaming plump rump?
People say Factories are closing down,
Yeah, just like acid rain is closing down,
Like toxic waste dumps are closing down,
Like deforestation and stripmining are closing down,
Yeah, like slaughterhouses, terrorism, Star Wars, oil spills,
handgun murder and AIDS are closing down.
Factories are closing down, but opening up somewhere else,
bigger, faster, producing more than ever somewhere else,
Somewhere else doors open and workers enter in,
Somewhere else workers daydream being free,
The smokestacks rise somewhere else,
The timeclocks, the paychecks, the drive
To and from work somewhere else.
If we can retread a worn-out tire,
how retread a worn-out life? Retire?
Recycle aluminum cans, sure, but
how recycle the wasted lives,
Something I had not bargained for,
Something I did not count on:
They peeled the skin off the father's face
in front of his children,
Then put a grenade in his mouth
and pulled the pin.
They gang-raped the mother in front of
her children's eyes,
Then cut off her breasts
and rammed a lighted stick of dynamite
up her cunt.
On your tombstone an ant crawls
in the chiseled dash
the dates of your life.
lorries pass me
on the main road.
Years ago, before I gained
I'd have thumbed
on one of those;
through the night
new places, new faces, traces
I walk on home
the workaday world.
Place it here Don’t rise up so impatiently We are with a morning all the untidy waves creep toward Underneath Capture Moments when the flood fills And years ago they swept Johnstown with my backside Morning The clock strikes the back post Unfortunately, I climbed before the tide I closed your eyes with my lids I sunk down and took oblivion This is a generation The moment you bare yourself
Funk isn’t my word in someone else’s breath Hello I’m being me The television isn’t on Place it here I sink down The bellydancer reminds me of my navel The time between time Moment Moment when the sound ends There is sweat down my back
Happen Then I call you Night
I’m awake I got my body to rise
Hello If I answer will I get paid? Cycles of nature freaks sink the shoulders in front You’re not vision Your sleep is maintaining slips
People like us
Sleep with our mouths
Sometimes we get so crazy We drive right in front of water The bars are closing Holier kisses Lips she laughs The thought of striking someone Pretty soon gasoline takes the place of needles It doesn’t take one out into the clearing salt
Break pace Day never before being this way Being this way Before Forget to remember the pace Break open the food Preserve and place it here Patience We’re getting over the flight Turbulence The activity of the jive jumbling stagnant day
Hello Hello Are you there? Are you awake? Does it sound like people resting?
– Marina Lazzara
The Reason We Work So Hard
Perhaps the reason we work so hard is
the same reason the beaver
must always keep gnawing down trees,
Otherwise its teeth which never stop growing
curve back into its jaws
so it can't eat
and dies in agony,
Except what grows in us is not
our teeth, but
our knowledge of death—
our own and everyone we love—
which keeps gnawing at us,
And like ants, bees, termites
who can't help themselves
and are forever busy,
So we, too, are caught, caught
in a desperate work routine
from which there is no escape.
We can't help ourselves,
although poets try,
Although composers, dancers, actors,
photographers, potters, painters,
sculptors, singers, musicians try,
although saviors and bodhisattvas try,
although beautiful cocks, tits cunts,
today I saw
that was growing
sideways out of a hill
and i woke up
for a second
– Spenser Thompson