Week #16 – Busy at work

Working the field by Walter Bjorkman


Cochinos by Linda Simoni-Wastila

The garbage bag bumps behind you through the glass-strewn median. You startle when the 18-wheeler barrels past, the cigarette spattering orange on the pavement.“Cochinos.” You stab a soggy diaper. “Pigs. All of them.”You check the watch you found last week shining Indy-Glo green. Two more hours, no more breaks. You keep walking. Rats stare at you, their eyes fearless pinpricks, but you reach around them for the Corona empties, the crumpled McDonald’s bags, and wait for dawn to spill, a broken yolk across the desert.

You scrape crushed rabbit from the asphalt, gagging at the smell. Dead animals still get to you, haunting your dreams. Those nights Simona soothes you, reminds you of Spring, of picking berries in the valley, then asparagus, almond, and, when the baby comes, grapes. Sometimes you curse yourself for listening to her, for leaving La Paz, but she wanted a better life for the child. It’s not her fault construction dried up. You gaze at the orange-flecked clouds. The cool breeze reminds you of the Coromuel winds, and you try to thank God for this job, but you can’t. You can only pray for this shift to end.

You hear the thrum of blowflies before you see the white-swaddled object, larger than the rabbit; a dog, perhaps, or small coyote. At one end, a thatch of black. Your heart races even as your walk slows and somehow, you know, even before you reach down to unwrap the sheet, expose the face, you will never pick trash on a highway again.

meridian of time by Dorothee Lang

blackbirds cross into tomorrow

and circle back on minute wings

while i stand and watch the clock

this everlasting ticking

time machine


the deadline triggers

i walk the line


Prescriptive by Roberta Lawson

This room is their bedroom, only larger. Somehow it is every bedroom she has ever known. Outside this room are animals and movement and life. Inside this room a spill of boxes, shiny, sporting loopy bows. She will open these boxes, these are the sum of her luckiness. So she sets to ripping through layers of wrapping. Her fingers are clumsy. In one box she finds a new camera, glinting silver. Another, a set of tickets. The tickets grant entry to places, offer journeys. She cannot quite believe that she will ever fully leave this room. In other boxes she finds pet collars, designer animal foods. Still more; baby mobiles, names on waiting lists for school places. Names that don’t yet exist. More: books of recipes for meals she will one day cook. In others, sex toys, lingerie. Oh, she thinks, setting scenes in her mind.

Clothes. Hats boots hosiery swimsuits. A kind of uniform. She supposes there is an order to these boxes, that she could lay them out and follow them like a staircase, though if doing so would lead her from this room or further into it she is not sure.

There he is in the doorway. He is in his dressing gown, which must mean this is morning or some late late night hour. I’ve been so busy working, he says. He gestures to the sea of boxes.Working to get you all these things you wanted. She can’t remember what she wanted.

Deep Thoughts by Sam Rasnake

I’ve mowed the grass again,
making the cardinal’s life
an easier settlement.

Worms groove the ground
in soft silence,
oblivious to the inevitable.

The astilbe readies itself
for a wet night.
Overhead, motors grind

through orange clouds. A rabbit
practices her own
hard philosophy,

reads the fence line
as prologue to sky.
Crickets deep the bladed green

in a clot of honeysuckle air.
We’re all shadows here.
My love for you is dark.

Corner by Kim Hutchinson

The sun is bouncin’ off the pavement already. Not much traffic on the street, but the stream of customers is steady.Been here for hours, days, can’t remember. Can’t remember much. Not sure why I’d want to.

Fat Iggy’s here with his shopping cart. He calls it a silver chariot. It’s full of green plastic bags and bottles and garbage he collects, but when he’s high, it probably looks like a BMW.

We talk about nothin’. Just makin’ sounds. He passes me money. I pass him product. That’s all either of us care about.

Some business bitch in four hundred dollar shoes walks by. I bang into her shoulder, hard, just to let her know it’s my corner.

Her head doesn’t turn. She doesn’t flinch. Iggy and I don’t exist.

Her phone rings Lady Gaga.

It’s my fuckin’ corner.

Brown Paper by Maggie Sokolik

The manager complains that the closet shelves are lined with newspaper. She has instructed the front desk clerk to affix proper paper to each of the empty shelves.

Bharadwaj stands with his back to me, scraping off the yellowed pages of the Ganashakti. He then begins measuring, cutting, and gluing brown paper from a long roll. He sings in Bengali. The manager enters to inspect his work. After a short discussion, he says, “Yes, Madam,” removes the paper from the bottom shelf, remeasures, recuts, and reglues.

The telephone is a mere prop on the desk. It is not connected to a wire, the wall, or the outside world. The small hard cots are covered in graying sheets, naked of blankets. A trail of ants creeps along the grout in the shower, going from nowhere to nowhere. The little red fridge humming in the corner is empty except for one Kingfisher beer, supplied by Bharadwaj.

“Americans like beer, right?” he asks. “It’s not acceptable for a woman to buy beer.” He proffers the beer in a brown paper bag.

The window stands open in hopes of a breeze, but diesel fumes and dust drift in instead. I think I hear a monkey, but Bharadwaj says it’s just an ordinary bird. I want to hear monkeys.

The shelves are completed. I run my hands over the clean dry surface of the fresh paper. “Beautiful,” I whisper.

I have nothing to put there.


Back to Wk #15 – Sleep

Forward to Wk #17 – We are not responsible

One Response to “Week #16 – Busy at work

  1. I think my favorite this week is the poem, Deep Thoughts. I liked the part about the philosophical rabbit especially.

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