Part Time

Here’s a father and son running a gas station on week-ends.
Here’s a way of squeezing the handle that loosens the fumes
of motion, where you get each day a little further into future

benefits. A locker with your name on it. A passing grade in
the insubstantial history of work, because what gets done
disappears, you toss a zero back and forth in your hands.

Look at the stick shift in his ’35 Dodge, a Depression year
that extruded a way of holding on, and he’s happy crossing 
bridges, the muddy current below unable to keep up appearances.

Joy in the coming home and the leaving, these the cycles 
even sparrows know, fluttering on fire escapes, darting
toward the backyard oak, visions of fledged offspring 

already in their little eyes. What’s size but a prejudice?
Let’s talk of buildings in the blood. Elevators that run up 
and down all day as gravity’s fools, someone at the handle.

The world spins. But slowly. Time enough to connect  
the cable to terminal A. Then to B. Aware of sudden sparks, 
bubbling acid, something corrosive entering the lungs.  

If this is the taste of oblivion, where’s the darkness?  
Why are we sitting in the sun, no traffic on Canal Street,
the city giving up its shadows and the clutter of lives in collision?
John Allman | Mudlark No. 37
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