the living

There are days like today when the living ain’t easy. 
I sit in the back of the store—breakroom slash 
stockroom—waiting for things I cannot name. 

Boxes stacked to the ceiling containing gadgets to 
keep us entertained. Fluorescent lights hum. 
The clock ticks away each second of my life for 

minimum wage. I won’t be dishonest, a dollar 
more than minimum. I am still a slave without 
chains. The mental and spiritual shackles are 

hard and cold, holding me firm to an invisible 
wall deep inside invisible catacombs. There is 
no cask here. I am bricked in by this culture. 

It is wild and oppressive and no longer free. I want to 
melt coins, burn Franklins and Washingtons to ash, 
mix them to create magic wands to cast out demons 

and cast spells to bind the future of capitalism; forever.

The bulbs continue to buzz, the microwave hums, 
warming food for the one invading my space. She is 

tall and pencil thin, hair dyed Smurf-blue, voice like 
Rosie Perez. She doesn’t know that I want to save her 
from this place, this back room, cold and lonely, not fit 

for life. We are here because the melting and burning 
has not yet begun. Instead of a war cry to usher in the 
next revolution, she waits for a beep, so her radiated 

meal can soothe her. She eats away her minimum wage, 
unconcerned with the reality that she may live and die in 
a stockroom, somewhere on this continent, making less 

than the patriarchy that owns her life and lives well off 
her lack. Her Smurf-blue hair will have turned gray and 
white, her back low and knees pained; but she can’t 

stop because cat food is expensive these days and 
she needs to eat.

The light dims and flickers. A toilet 
flushes in the distance. Footsteps trace their way 

back to the front to greet an uneventful life, bloodied 
with microwave dinners, worn shoes, unpaid light 
bills and a life-dance without music.

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5 comments

  1. Wow. Love the Poe reference, and he would be proud of the tightness and control (and the consistent mood) of this piece. I have been in the stockroom before, and you returned me there flawlessly.

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