Thomas Locicero, 7/24/2017

Current occupation: Teacher
Former occupation: Customer Service Supervisor
Contact Information: Thomas Locicero’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Roanoke Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Long Island Quarterly, The Good Men Project, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Jazz Cigarette, Quail Bell Magazine, Antarctica Journal, Rat’s Ass Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Hobart, Ponder Review, vox poetica, Poetry Pacific, Brushfire Literature & Arts Journal, Indigo Lit, Saw Palm, Fine Lines, New Thoreau Quarterly, Birmingham Arts Journal, Clockwise Cat, Snapdragon, felan, The Ghazal Page, Red Savina Review, Better Than Starbucks, Poetry Quarterly, The Write Launch, Bindweed Magazine, The Skinny Poetry Journal, Abyss & Apex Magazine, The Avocet, Speculative 66,, Kestrel, and Spectator & Spooks, among other journals. He lives in Broken Arrow, OK.



There Was a Time in America

There was a time in America
when life and work were synonymous,
when people, actual people, were forced to come
to a New World to work—and for this privilege,
they were permitted to live—and when almost all
of a civilization was forced to go, to march, so that
their red earth could be “worked” by white men
off the backs of black men. A new definition of work.

There was a time in America
when tilling meant food and “Timber” greed,
but lumberjacking was work and work meant
life, so now we plant a tree when we tear one down
because we are better people than we were then.

There was a time in America
when if a man did not work, he did not eat,
a warning the apostle Paul wrote to the men
of Thessalonica, who lazed about believing
the Parousia was imminent. We scoffed at those
who did not work, acted as if we invented it,
mocking siestas and European naptime and, eventually,
maternity leave, suggesting that vacations were for
the lazy.

Today, in Japan, death by overwork is called karoshi.
Some say it is a culture. This we also mock.

There was a time in America
when a job was like a marriage, till death—or retirement—
do us part, when a paycheck was paper and smelled
of sweat. Now, in our divorce culture, we feel lucky
to have the privilege to work for people who would
prefer automatons to us, people who know our families,
yet would discard us like stale bread without a moment
of hesitation.

Today, in America, we clutch our invisible paychecks
like they are winning lottery tickets.


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