Lou Gallo, 2/24/2020

uCurrent Occupation:  Professor
Former Occupation:  most of life, professor; as a kid and teen worked at my dad's woodworking shop
Contact Information:  born and raised in New Orleans.  Now teaching at Radford University in Virginia, living with wife and daughters. Louis Gallo has published two volumes of poetry, Archaeology and Scherzo Furiant, with Kelsay Books.  He has three more volumes forthcoming, Clearing the Attic, Crash (both from Adelaide Books) and Leeway & Advent from Kelsay Books.  A novella, The Art Deco Lung, is also forthcoming from Wapshott Press.  

 

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CLEANING LADY
 
When the cleaning lady comes in
to empty the trash and sometimes dust
the desks and bookshelves (her schedule
and my office hours seem identical)
she’s usually huffing and pushing
a massive apparatus of dusters, paper
towels, fluids and waste bins,
and when it’s Friday, she cracks
a crooked smile and rejoices,
“Thank God, it’s Friday,” and I rejoice
with her.
 
                 Our rapport is limited—grunts
about the weather, the poorly constructed
building, her grandkids, my daughters,
the usual chit-chat with those you really
know nothing about, nor they you . . .
but friendly enough.  And I think she senses
a certain camaraderie between us, and, if so,
she’s right.  I often envy her, simple, easy
work . . . unlocking doors, dumping trash,
feathering the shelves—no torturous thought
to it however physically arduous.  (I would
prefer the night shift, however, when
nobody else is around.)
 
I never talk to her about what I’m brooding
over—the introjection of false consciousness
into the mass mindset, the statute of limitations
riveted in all of us at birth, the sublime
in the pedestrian, the travesty of minimum
wage (as if anyone . . .), the phenomenology
of desire, Hegel’s absurd dialectics . . .
how on and on it goes.  Perhaps she too
so broods and doesn’t share with me,
but I doubt it.  She seems salt of the earth,
gets the job done, goes home, drinks some beer,
watches a latest episode.
 
She’s not young either, though younger than I—
who isn’t?  She too has a bad lower back.
She too needs more money, more pleasure,
more everything.  But she seems content enough,
never miserable, never hostile, never complaining.
Whereas I . . . I do envy her, wish her the best,
hope they give her a raise, that her grandkids
cherish her.  I know each new day that I will
enter a clean, dust-free office as once again
I wrestle the black angels of false consciousness

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