March 21, 2013

the birthrights of a department store blues...



the dark of the stockroom

walking past the storefront
I slowed down, staring
at my window reflection
the shop keep came out
he was a stout Italian or French man
I could not tell except for his sing song cadence
he said, “ hey, mister do you want-ta a job”
and soon I was on this dry goods
fine linens Olympic team
in the back with the mangled wooden crates
and newfangled wax corrugated cardboard containers
these lightweight boxes with wavy lines
inside two paper thin panels, dreamt of being trees once
you imagined they screamed for wind in their pulp fiber madness
stiffened by processing glues and slapped with paint
they became the quiet holders of things

all of us in the stock room savaged each other’s lives
with tales of woe and slay when on break
we told and re-told stories that winced
at blades of truth so we kept those eyes sheathed
while laughing and piling the flattened boxes and crushed cans
spying often, as men do, at the gams with fine shoes
making sweet bell sounds on the wooden floor
occasionally a waft of her perfume made it
into our tankard smiled sweat and smear faced dusty regards
we were cave-dwellers, coal mining in the constant night
of the stockroom, for diamonds, time to time
no need to peer back, ma’am, just listen for our silence
as you bend over the counter to pick out
those new nylons, made in America, imported from France
they’re on the bottom shelf as you can see
we have plenty to choose from, so take your time
the shop keep says, giving us a wink, keeping us connected
and happy inside the dark of the stockroom

EJR ©

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