(that’s probably why i’m) unemployed

she’s got a clipboard and a bored look
and lipstick on the corner of her left bicuspid
and she flicks a bit of saliva at me as she says
looking at my wild hair and patched jeans–
sir, have you ever held a job?

and i look at her for a moment.
no, i say. i have never held a job.
i imagine they’re quite heavy
from all the tension and bleak future images
they produce, with serrated edges to cut into free time
and hidden dividers between business and pleasure
rather slippery with all the sweat, blood and tears
(would you touch anything that unsanitary, ma’am?
surely not, you look pretty clean.)

and don’t think i missed the hooks on the ends
of these jobs for yanking people up the corporate ladder
or flinging them out on their asses to destitution,
because i’m sharper than the left edge that tears families apart
which i can see poking out from underneath that shiny cloth
you tried to cover it with.

for someone in beat-up clothes who’s allergic to brushes,
i say, i’m pretty astute.

finished, i settle back in my chair and crack my knuckles,
tug a finger through a snarl of hair
and peel lint from the unraveling patch on my left thigh.

she stares speechless for a few minutes and then she says,
we’ll call you.


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