Current Occupation: House Spouse
Former Occupation: English Teacher
Contact Information: Robert Cooperman's latest collection is DRAFT BOARD BLUES (FutureCycle Press). Forthcoming from Main Street Rag Publishing Company is THAT SUMMER and from Aldrich Press, THEIR WARS. Cooperman's work has appeared in THE SEWANEE REVIEW, CALIFORNIA QUARTERLY, SLANT, and elsewhere.
Hands in Pockets
My uncle got me a summer job
in a Garment District factory:
Harold—the guy I reported to,
with his rat tail moustache—hated me.
“Get your hands out of your pockets,”
he growled when he first laid eyes on me.
“You come to work prepared, or
you get the hell home, you got that?”
Then, knowing I’d screw up anyway,
he showed me how to tape cartons,
stack orders, close the boxes for shipping,
and how to attach the labels, not exactly
string theory or relativity, but I managed
to louse up the first order, to prove to Harold
that a moron had been thrust upon him.
Finally, I got it right, did the job better
than he expected, which meant he hated me
even more, especially when I suggested once,
his count was off. He never forgave me,
shoved a broom at me, and smirked,
“The floor better be spotless, college boy,”
then informed me that was my new job.
Still, it was money and I was young,
hummed tunes to the subway at five,
and breathed the perfume of fashion models
who hailed cabs like birds of paradise,
while I licked Italian ices, and dreamed
of Harold’s accidental and unfortunate death.