Tag Archives: class

What We Take

Originally posted on 3/26/2010.

We take
our coffee without cream

We take
our lunch when they let us
Ham on rye
yellow mustard
maybe cheese
maybe lettuce
chips and pickle on the side

We take it on faith
that we might lose these jobs

We take
our money home
Keep it close enough to hear it squeak

We take
our clothing simple and plain and sturdy

Once in a while
we’ll take on something
with a touch more style
as long as it toes a certain line

We take
our evenings as they come

We take
our friends as warty and hard as we are  
We talk
the way we learned to talk
at the knees of those like us

We change the conversation 
only a little at a time
unless we’re shoved along a path
we didn’t plan to take

We do what we can
to hold on to what we used to say
adding new words only where they fit

We take
the daily news with a heap of salt
Even when it makes
some kind of sense
we don’t pay much attention
unless we recognize a name or a face

We work too hard
to care too much
about which suits are running a game
we know we’re going to lose

We take
our champions as they are
and our warriors
as we find them

We take them to heart
if they sound like us
because that’s how we know they’re real

We take on
the battles they want to fight
because that’s how we learn to hope

We take out the garbage
first thing in the morning
to keep it safe from the raccoons and skunks
and the neighbor’s dog that rips the bags for snacks

We swear we’ll mess that dog up one of these days
for messing us up and making it hard
to keep order on the streets where we live

We take
a moment to look one way then the other
before crossing the street
and climbing into our cars

in our same old solid clothes
clutching steaming travel cups
and brown bags
that hold the same sandwiches
they held yesterday
and the day before

We take it
and take it 
and take it
and take it
and take it

until we stop
until we die


Revisionist History

In the history of government
it doesn’t matter how they start out,
they always end the same way —
as a system where the venal
can game their way to power
and stay there regardless
of the label they choose to wear.

In the history of nations
it doesn’t matter how you love them,
they only love you back 
a little, and only at certain times.

In the history of history
it doesn’t matter what happens,
only what is said about what happened
or did not happen, or is said
to have not happened.  

I tell you these things
not to make you despair
or get you angry.  

I tell you this
not to make you shrug
or to allow myself delight
at your learned helplessness — no,

I tell you this to let you know
battles are not won
as much as they become
games 
to be replayed.

You will 
lose some,
and win some,
and some of us
will die playing
while some
will kill while playing.

There are no nations
but two:
the strugglers and the lords,
and both are everywhere
and speak all languages.

In the history of humans
there’s dancing and loving
and making of art and music,
good sweat, grand tears,
and a lot of laughter,

but you should not confuse their sources
with history and nation and government.
If you want to pursue happiness,
chase it but always recall
that history and nation and government
pursue happiness too,
and they do it, always,
by chasing you.

 


Two O’Clock

Two O’Clock,
we called him.

He walked to the corner
across from the bodega
and stood motionless
every day at that time
for exactly
seventeen minutes,
then walked away.

It’s a good thing we had a clock,
one with a second hand.
Otherwise,
we’d never have known his name.

Three years I worked there,
in that stupid optical shop,
unpacked lenses
and packaged frames
for delivery all over
the damn state,
and Two O’Clock
was out there every day,
rain or shine,
waiting for something.

A place to go
is a good thing.
I used to get paid for going to mine.
I don’t know what he got out of his
because I never saw him meet anyone
or get on a bus to go somewhere else.

Two o’clock rolls around these days
and I sit here.  I don’t do anything
at all.  Haven’t for a while,
and the money’s running out.
I might go down to the corner
one of these days,
see if Two O’Clock’s still doing his thing.
Maybe he’s been waiting for me.
He must know something
about killing time I might learn.

And he wore glasses.
I remember that.  Old ones,
with big plastic frames.
Maybe I could adjust them for him.
I used to do that too. 

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What We Take

We take our coffee without cream.

We take our meals when the whistle lets us,
one half hour at a time.
Ham on rye’s as fancy as we get,
some yellow mustard on the bread,
maybe cheese, maybe lettuce if we’ve got time,
chips and pickle on the side.

We take it on faith
that we might lose these jobs.
So we take our money home
and keep it close enough to hear it squeak.

We take our clothing simple and plain
and cheap as we can find. Once in a while
we’ll take on something
with a touch more style
as long as it toes a certain line.

We take our evenings as they come.
We take our friends as warty and hard
as we are.   We talk the way we learned to talk
at the knees of those like us,
and if we do change the conversation
it’s only a little at a time
unless we’re shoved along a path
we didn’t plan to take,
and then we do what we can
to hold on to what we used to say,
adding new words only where they fit.

We take the evening news with a heap of salt.
Even when it makes some kind of sense
we don’t pay much attention
unless we recognize a name or a face.
We work too hard to care too much
which suits are running the game
we know we’re going to lose.

We take our champions as they are
and our warriors as we find them.
We take them to heart if they sound like us
because that’s how we know they’re real.
We take on the battles they want to fight
because that’s how we learn to hope.

We take out the garbage first thing in the morning
to keep it safe from the raccoons and skunks
and the neighbor’s dog that rips the bags for snacks.
We swear we’ll mess that dog up one of these days
for messing us up and making it hard
to keep order on the streets where we live. 
We take a moment to look one way,
then the other, before crossing the street
and climbing into our cars
in our same old solid clothes,
clutching steaming travel cups
and the brown bags
that hold the same kind of sandwiches
they held yesterday
and the day before.

Blogged with the Flock Browser