For at least three dog years

We did shams

And rolled the half-pipe

On the grounds of the club at night.

By day things changed

King grand at a time.

Before long notes came due.

So for a fine price

She suckled them to sleep

On sweet milk of amnesia.


Blair Ewing



They contrive havoc in the shipyard, every day,

We're just out here rolling, setting up

Three rounds and a sound.

Now they make us make our brothers

Step down, and down again.

Sonny Hammett from Fayette County:

You left a grieving widow, Judith

Tried to stop you.

You found Misters Abbott and Gabelt

In the Quality Control Office and

Punched a sightless, bloodshot eye

In their foreheads.


Just like Roger the Dodger used to say:

They're cooking up new recipes.

Some of you will float to the top

And some, like sludge, drift to the bottom.

And some will just evaporate

Carried off by the steam rising up

From the bowels of the bank.

Uncooperative radical particle I

Stick to my guns like glue.

Defensive readiness is at a very high premium.

If only they had marked us all

Not just one

We could play defense as a team

And all of us would be captains.


Blair Ewing



These seem papers

singed by fire

—documents left scattered

in a hectic retreat of

battalion headquarters

or the abandoned records

of an overthrown regime


Fear and pain

shimmer over the disorganized pages

hover above the words scratched along the slots

lined onto the white surface


And rage

flares in the ink

deposited frantically here

It is anger that matches my own

knuckle to knuckle

as I read the words

as my red pen

descends toward its victims

toward what is written

Once more

I have failed

to convince, to inform

to teach

     So I hold their fury
     stacks of it
     sheets of it
     and press down on theirs
     with my own

      How did literature
      become so filled
      with hate?


     Document your sources correctly

     the red nib admonishes

     You must provide examples

     to show what you mean


     The blue paragraphs




No one is listening

Tom Wayman




Content with becoming unlike

the sea, he denies the past

and dust, puts in

long hours in an office.  Yet


here, or nowhere, there are laws

chisels convinced stone of

and the storied mist,

beard of ancestor and beast.  And what


but Where is Once or When?

would he expect them to demand

had they not as children known

whose fallen hand was raising them?


—Harry Brody





I'd like to apply for a job.

Yes, the job you have available;

my manner is most saleable

and I hope you'll find me suitable

for $5.15 an hour.


I really have the skills, you see,

I've been to university

and though I studied history

I've found my heart to truly be

in men's ties and socks/glass figurines/the discount shoe industry.


What makes me think I'd be good for this job?


um, I love working with people.

...and I love riding the subway an hour and a half each way;

let's see, add those hours to my day

and I'll be making a whopping $3.75 an hour!


oh, no — sir — I do want the job. Can't you tell by my suit?

No, actually, I don't own a dress;

I don't feel comfortable, I confess.

But hell,

for $5.15 an hour

I'll endeavor to wear some colors other than black—


um, I enjoy working with the public, and I'm good with money...


Oh yes, you're right

all us girls are good with money—

yes, that's charming, yes, how funny.

You know, I like a good work atmosphere

where the boss says whatever he wants

and the rest of us just listen...

I'm a very fast learner

and I promise that if you give me this job

I'll be the perfect subhuman

and never let my contempt shine in my worshipping eyes!


I love working with people,

and let's see — what else was I going to tell you?


No, I don't expect vacation pay

and yes, I'm available every day

and though I don't like the evil way

you're looking at me, I've got rent to pay.

And yes, I can start on Saturday.


—© Meryn Cadell 1991

from the Sire/Reprise album ANGEL FOOD FOR THOUGHT





Passing billboards that proclaim — “Working together

     to stimulate economic growth and job creation,”

Hearing over the radio — “Factories in orbit

     flourishing, healthy, growing,”

Reading in the paper — “Declining job market

     for trained elephants spells trouble,”

The interviewer appears again before me —

     “Gaps in your work-record,

         gaps in your work-record,

     don't look good to us, Mr. Antler —

         you don't expect us to believe

     all those years you wrote



What could I say?  What did I say?

“We've come from a nation in which one-sixth were slaves

     to a nation 600 times larger in which

         we are all slaves.”

“No doubt before long factories will be totally extinct.

We'll probably label factories an endangered species

     and preserve one or two

for people to wander through

to remember what they were like.”

 “Employer and employee, this is Pussysmell Fingertips speaking —

you knew all along, didn't you, work-ethic as cattleprod,

cemetery of timeclocks, vomitgas canisters

ready and waiting.”


Tell the work-ethic you'll live to shit on its grave

         and have it regard it as a blessing,

a blessing and not a curse.

Why?  Because, with a grin of chagrin —

         salves rather than slaves,

         peonies rather than peonage,

         prisms rather than prisons,

         surfboards rather than serfdom,

         wild rice rather than tame rice,

         meteors rather than meat-eaters,

         violins rather than violence,

         warble rather than war.


         Rather than business as usual, loafing as usual.

         Instead of the Misery Index throwing people out of work,

         throwing the work-ethic out the window.

         Instead of warhead payload,

         blowjobhead semenload.

         Instead of warhead payload,

         givinghead mouthload.

         Children made angels in the snow

         before the pyramids, before Stonehenge,

                    before Pleistocene creatures

         were painted miles within on the walls of caves.

         The Ghost Dance is still going on.

         The Ghost Dance never died.


         If Descartes had lived today

         would he say —“I work, therefore I am”?

         The Holocaust's cost — who will pay?

         Roadkills in the Rearview Mirror?

         Deathbed on Rollerskates?

         Rubric of frolic and rollick and romp and roam

         all with a gleaming plump rump?




         People say Factories are closing down,

         Yeah, just like acid rain is closing down,

         Like toxic waste dumps are closing down,

         Like deforestation and stripmining are closing down,

         Yeah, like slaughterhouses, terrorism, Star Wars, oil spills,

         handgun murder and AIDS are closing down.

         Factories are closing down, but opening up somewhere else,

            bigger, faster, producing more than ever somewhere else,

         Somewhere else doors open and workers enter in,

         Somewhere else workers daydream being free,

         The smokestacks rise somewhere else,

         The timeclocks, the paychecks, the drive

         To and from work somewhere else.


         If we can retread a worn-out tire,

         how retread a worn-out life?  Retire?

         Recycle aluminum cans, sure, but

         how recycle the wasted lives,

                        that question

         not answered.


         Something I had not bargained for,

         Something I did not count on:

         They peeled the skin off the father's face

         in front of his children,

         Then put a grenade in his mouth

         and pulled the pin.

         They gang-raped the mother in front of

         her children's eyes,

         Then cut off her breasts

         and rammed a lighted stick of dynamite

                      up her cunt.


         On your tombstone an ant crawls

         in the chiseled dash


         the dates of your life.







Returning home

at midnight,

lorries pass me

on the main road.


Years ago, before I gained

my respectability,

I'd have thumbed

a lift

on one of those;

through the night

to morning

somewhere else,

new places, new faces, traces

of freedom.


I walk on home

to bed,

for tomorrow

I face


the workaday world.


Gerald England


Sleep With Mouth Open


Place it here   Don’t rise up so impatiently   We are with a morning all the untidy waves creep toward   Underneath   Capture   Moments when the flood fills   And years ago they swept Johnstown with my backside   Morning   The clock strikes the back post   Unfortunately, I climbed before the tide   I closed your eyes with my lids   I sunk down and took oblivion   This is a generation   The moment you bare yourself


Funk isn’t my word in someone else’s breath   Hello   I’m being me   The television isn’t on   Place it here   I sink down   The bellydancer reminds me of my navel   The time between time   Moment   Moment when the sound ends   There is sweat down my back


Happen   Then   I call you Night


I’m awake   I got my body to rise


Hello   If I answer will I get paid?   Cycles of nature freaks sink the shoulders in front   You’re not vision   Your sleep is maintaining slips


People like us

Sleep with our mouths

Wide open


Sometimes we get so crazy   We drive right in front of water   The bars are closing   Holier kisses   Lips she laughs   The thought of striking someone   Pretty soon gasoline takes the place of needles   It doesn’t take one out into the clearing salt


Break pace   Day never before being this way   Being this way   Before   Forget to remember the pace   Break open the food   Preserve and place it here   Patience   We’re getting over the flight   Turbulence   The activity of the jive jumbling stagnant day


Hello   Hello   Are you there?   Are you awake?   Does it sound like people resting?


Marina Lazzara


The Reason We Work So Hard


Perhaps the reason we work so hard is

the same reason the beaver

must always keep gnawing down trees,

Otherwise its teeth which never stop growing

curve back into its jaws

so it can't eat

and dies in agony,

Except what grows in us is not

our teeth, but

our knowledge of death—

our own and everyone we love—

which keeps gnawing at us,

And like ants, bees, termites

who can't help themselves

and are forever busy,

So we, too, are caught, caught

in a desperate work routine

from which there is no escape.

We can't help ourselves,

although poets try,

Although composers, dancers, actors,

photographers, potters, painters,

sculptors, singers, musicians try,

although saviors and bodhisattvas try,

although beautiful cocks, tits cunts,

buttocks try…







am D.O.A.

at work



the morning


i try

to notice


i hadn't

noticed before


today I saw

a big


that was growing

sideways out of a hill


and i woke up

for a second


bugs die


on the



but I

will go



Spenser Thompson