Monday, June 10, 2013

poem of the day 06.10.13

why not smile?

he used to pull me into that office
almost weekly

it always smelled of coffee and his bad breath

i would sit there thinking
that he should see a dentist
while he ran down this week’s list of my infractions

curt on the phone with customers
curt on the sales floor
five days without shaving
wine and food stains on my pants
and my eyes red from whatever i did when not there

then he’d tell me that i was lucky to have this job

this isn’t a bad job, he’d say

which was easy for him to say
because it had become his career

but for me it was the only job
that i could find in buffalo

i get it, he’d tell me
sometimes a job wears you down
sometimes the public does

but these customers put my kids through college
they put food on your table

which explained why i hadn’t enjoyed a meal
since i took this job

this job is a piece of cake, he’d say

but you, i don’t get you
you’re an enigma

you walk around this store like you hate everything

you don’t smile
you don’t talk to your co-workers
you show no emotion at all

then he would smile wide
and the room smelt worse than before

see? he’s say, pointing at his face

it’s easy
it’s easy to smile, john

why not smile
every once in a while?

then he’d dismiss me like we’d made real progress
he’d unleash me back onto the sales floor

where some lonely old woman
would start yelling at me
about why we were out of stock on sale white zinfandel

or some kid would knock over a whiskey display
and his mother would yell at me about lawsuits

and i’d start thinking about how
there were no other jobs in buffalo

how i was stuck in this place for nine hours a day
how i’d commit suicide rather than smile at this place

and i knew i’d be back in his office the next week
smelling his bad breath

the two of us hopeless
and worn out with each other

but doing that same song and dance.


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