After punching in, she opens her
register, counts up bills and
unwrap rolls of coins. Her arms ache
from yesterday. From pulling together
store items, piling them in bags.
Another day in this dismal place.
Dim lights and cool corridors.
No clock, no water fountain,
no public restroom. Aisles stocked
with cans, boxes, frozen foods.
Pushing carts full of packaged meat,
donuts, cases of beer...customers
creep up in line. Trance-like they
press forward with crinkled coupons,
handing out cash or swiping cards.
A camera is poised on her.
Registers are monitored and
the number of sales counted.
Making sure nothing slips by,
“The Man” is always watching.
Always cherished the sanctity of
this place. This refuge of
volumes arranged in infallible
logic of the Dewey Decimal system.
Judith loved to touch these volumes.
Especially heavy reference
dictionaries, atlases, almanacs
and encyclopedias. Those sheltered
in secluded shelves for staff only.
Children come along each day
to feast on colorful books. Lounging
in small chairs, they became
spellbound by cornucopias of words.
Mostly she likes the retirees who
linger with newspapers and
magazines in the reading room.
They confessed not to understand
computers, writing down requested titles.
At the end of the day, Judith walks
through a quiet room. Before leaving,
she will select a saga of spicy
adventure to flavor her evening.
Retail Sales Clerk
Janice wore black shoes and clothes
as prescribed by management.
Laughing she called it her uniform
for these last twenty years.
Colors come and go, mustard,
fushia, magneta, electric green.
Hems up and down, necklines
dipping or close to the throat.
Some styles were all fuss and
flutter. Others sharp, tailored.
She loved to press her hands
fingering racks of satins, velvets.
Janice watched customers pry into
purses to find charge cards.
"Wear it with smiles" she called as
shoppers wandered downstairs.
I wanna become superwoman
learn portuguese in sixty seconds
end pollution single-handedly
feed rice a roni to the planet
win awards left and right.
I wanna become super woman
paint the Taj Mahal red
knock down bureaucrats by the dozens
create creative pandemoniumflying off the edge of everything.