At the Office Holiday Party

I can now confirm that I am not just fatter

than everyone I work with, but I’m also fatter
than all their spouses. Even the heavily bearded
bear in accounting has a little otter-like boyfriend.

When my co-workers brightly introduce me
as “the funny one in the office,” their spouses
give them a look which translates to, Well, duh,
then they both wait for me to say something funny.

A gaggle of models comes shrieking into the bar
to further punctuate why I sometimes hate living
in this city. They glitter, a shiny gang of scissors.
I don’t know how to look like I’m not struggling.

Sometimes on the subway back to Queens,
I can tell who’s staying on past the Lexington stop
because I have bought their shoes before at Payless.
They are shoes that fool absolutely no one.

Everyone wore their special holiday party outfits.
It wasn’t until I arrived at the bar that I realized
my special holiday party outfit was exactly the same
as the outfits worn by the restaurant’s busboys.

While I’m standing in line for the bathroom,
another patron asks if I’m there to clean it.

:: Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz, Everything Is Everything (Write Bloody, 2010)


About Cleaning Bathrooms

It seems I'm always barging in
on somebody who's caught in a
compromising position. Right off,
they accuse me of spying.
What can I say?
How can I deny it?
I reply, muttering something
foolish about having to polish
the white porcelain or lay out
a fresh supply of paper towels.
But the embarrassed eyes follow me
out the squeaking black door,
they don't believe me.
For god's sake, why should I care
about the size of his dick or
whether or not she's been sitting
on the pot reading Vogue for
twenty minutes or who hurriedly
shoved a Playboy behind the stall?
And why would I take note of the
men who spray themselves with
cologne or the woman who plugs up
the john with tampons every single
month? No, it's pretty dull stuff.
But still they accuse me.
You Don't Look Like a Janitor.
The words accost me,
I ignore them.
I lay the toilet paper out gingerly.
I spray the air with just the right
amount of deodorizer, I whistle a lot.
As far as I'm concerned if you've seen
one ass, you've seen them all.

:: Kathryn Eberly, in If I Had a Hammer: Women's Work in Poetry, Fiction, and Photographs


My Granddad's Last Career

Not one of his wristwatches

ever kept time after he’d fixed it,
although he eventually did get one to tick,

its flat hands jerking like nerve
damage, like delirium tremens,
around its white, innocent face.

:: Joseph Green, in The Threepenny Review


The Barber

1. His Day

In his chair he sleeps,
Narcissus of scissors,
infinitely framed
in the tall shop mirrors.

Arranged in his shelf:
Wild Root, Vitalis
where talcum hints
rigor corporalis.

The tools of his craft
lie still where he snores,
sharp as a quill
or Ockham's razor.

2. The Barber at Twilight

The shop is closed
the lights are down
the chair he sat in
like a burnished throne
stands empty now,
and avenue crowds
slowly appear
in evening air
as the barber stares
from his upstate room
as night descends.

3. The Barber in Ecstasy

The magazine drops
by the bedside stand.
His hand, pensive,
strays across his thigh.
You're lovely, lovely,
the barber's voice whispers.
He tucks the naked
pillow to his side.

4. His Dream

Emerging from the tunnel, he enters
the garden where the goddess of wine,
raven-haired Siduri, pours him a tall one:
Day and night, day and night, feast and rejoice . . .
The barber lies down in the tall flowers
of heaven, as if there were no going home.

:: Daniel Tobin, in Cumberland Poetry Review, spring 1994