Carl Wade Thompson, 2/27/2017

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.



Deep Freeze

Meat packing ain’t easy,
always so damn cold. 
Wear layer after layer,
two pairs of gloves,
but no matter what,
I freeze every day.
Start out feeling warm,
false hope from beginning.
The longer I stand still,
stationary on the line,
the colder I become,
numbness creeps like ants.
By lunch, I’m a tree trunk,
stiff wood, no blood in my veins.
All day long I dream of heat,
fresh blacktop, July Texas nights.
When the whistle blows,
I’m the first one out.
In a dead run—keys out.
Pass through the double doors,
straight out to the parking lot.
Just let the heat set in,
the cold slips away.
As I get in my car,
I know tomorrow’s another day.
Just got to let it go.
Radio blares, roll down the windows,
let my mind drift; relax—
stare at the night, stars, and dream.


Changing of the Guard

The time has come,
hour eleven, on the dot.
My shift has nearly ended,
and I am so damned tired.
From seven to seven,
the whole live long day, 
emptied bed pans, gave meds,
kept my patients alive.
I am not a doctor,
never wanted to be.
Just try to do my best,
to care for the sick, dying.
Five patients, all at once,
yet there is no help for me.
The call light always beckons,
there’s always more to be done.
I hold my piss the whole day,
no time for me to pee.
Patients ask for water,
I’m at their command.
But sometimes they don’t get it,
nurses aren’t wait staff.
So while Mrs. Jones in Room 3,
is demanding her iced tea,
I’m trying to save Mr. Long,
who’s having a heart attack.
But end of shift is here,
the changing of the guard.
As I chart, report my care,
the time slowly expires.
Now I’m gone, don’t look back,
another day in the tank.
Time to go home, get clean,
finally have time to pee.

The Interview

Every job’s the most important,
the job you really want.
Decisions are life and death,
with each and every interview.
How hard you persuade them,
convince them most sincere.
But your words fall on deaf ears,
they’ve forgotten that you’re here.
And as you leave disheartened,
you wonder what went wrong?
You’ll never know what you did,
what the employer didn’t like.
Taking it all personal,
doubting yourself through the night.
But there are other jobs out there,
tomorrow is another day.
Jobless, you feel worthless,
like your bad in every way.
Know there is no justice,
helpless, you only can move on.


Whenever I am jobless,
feel my life standing still.
I am not a person,
it’s like I don’t exist.
I’m ashamed of my situation,
like I’ve done something wrong.
Sinful, I sit in silence,
like I’m damned by someone’s God.
Don’t why a job’s so important,
to the way I used to feel.
Sit at home, watch TV,
fill out applications all day long.
Don’t feel like a man,
I can’t bring my paycheck home.
It’s like my soul is stolen,
a ghost, I roam the halls.
Never have I felt so small,
insignificant piece of trash.
I pray I’ll find work,
anything will do at all.
All I want is to feel whole,
The way I used to be.
My life feels uncertain,
as the Recession rolls over me.

One comment on “Carl Wade Thompson, 2/27/2017
  1. Joan McNerney says:

    These poems are very powerful. The hard jobs, the desperation, the feelings of worthlessness. All too familiar for the average working person.

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