Thursday, March 26, 2015

poem of the day 03.26.15


campo was the funny guy
at the wine store

he had a ceaseless energy
and a legion of sycophants
who followed him around and hung on his every word

i disliked him from the onset

i was thirty-two and the rest of them
were barely pushing twenty in the warehouse
which made me a road sign warning to them

a decade full of dead ends they’d be fools to repeat

campo gave everyone nicknames
c-train, hoss, j-dog and futureman
for some reason he chose johnson for me

it stuck

the bosses and even the bartender
across the street called me that

it amazed me what i’d answer to
for a paycheck and a three-dollar buyback
on the third round

but then again i always hated the sound of my own name

campo had an ease with the customers that i did not
he could sell and sell

while i just hung around dusting bottles
and listening to the 1950s music the store pumped in

i got a reputation for being surly and aloof
although i just didn’t know how to relate to a lot of the kids

on weekends we had hot looking wine pourers
come in from the distributers
to pour samples for the customers

campo spent his whole work day at the tasting center
flirting with girls and getting drunk

the assistant manager had me in his office weekly
for a conversation about my attitude

he thought campo was the greatest
be more like campo, he told me
campo makes the world his own playground

but when i went to spend my day
flirting with the wine pouring girls
the assistant manager tossed my ass in the warehouse
for drinking on the job

he made me count broken vodka bottles

on evenings campo and the assistant boss
would stand in front of a large tv
they’d watch hockey and tell tall tales about the wine pourers

campo would do play-by-play
and shout outrageous platitudes at the screen

he talked about how many of the pourers he nailed

while i ran around cleaning wine spills and hauling boxes
scratching the collection of pink write-up slips in my back pocket

when i quit the wine store
campo was the only guy i saw on my way out

he was just an hour into another nine-hour shift
in his own personal minimum-wage playground

we shook hands
and he called me johnson one last time

then i sat in my car alone
drinking the rest of a warm beer
from the morning drive to work

watching as campo played the clown for all of his boys
while they collected shopping carts and laughed

thinking some guys had it good
and some guys just didn’t get it at all.                                       

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