Carl Wade Thompson, 10/17/2016

Current Occupation: Graduate Programs Writing Tutor
Former Occupation: Janitor/Meat Packer/Waste Disposal/Fork Life Operator
Contact Information: Carl Wade Thompson is a poet and graduate programs writing tutor at Texas Wesleyan University. His work often focuses on his manual labor experiences.



The Appearance of Work


A janitor, I’m busy,

always busy—appear busy,

outside looking in.

Vacuuming halls, cleaning desks,

doing something to myself.

Best lesson learned,

being busy, they leave me alone;

teachers, principals, students.

No one wants to interrupt,

‘cept for emergencies,

flooded toilets, coffee spills,

the usual school day shit.

Left alone, I’m in control,

my own damn boss.

I do my thing, get to work.

Sometimes, I feel free,

Not always—its fleeting,

a dream let loose,

like grasping ether;

smoke strands string along.

I follow the whispy trail,

dust mop in hand.

Sweep up the pieces,

the bell rings—

I’m back.

That’s work,

dreams often break.





Repetitive—word of the day,

week, month, year,

learn it, live it, through and through,

especially in a meat packing plant.

I trimmed and cut beef,

12 hours a day,

six days of week.

Cold, freezing cold, work,

takes my breath away.

I’ll admit, I’m good at it,

never been good at nothing,

but cutting meat, I’m good.

Thirty years gave me that skill,

that and arthritis,

carpal tunnel syndrome,

ears ringing all day, all night,

no relief.

Every day is the same,

the only difference,

when will my mind break?

Please not now, eight hours in.

Wait until the final horn,

when the last person leaves.

Wait, please wait for the parking lot,

‘till I see late night stars.

Then, and only then,

can you hear my screams.



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