this apartment is a cage

I should be
out on the town.

This apartment is a cage,
and the keys
are in my front right pocket.

I ask myself why I’m staying in,
and I can’t find
one solid reason.

It can’t be cash,
I just got paid.

Two good shows downtown,
bands I never miss.

The door is ajar,
and the heat
is overriding
the air conditioner.

I stand in the doorway,
bath robe open wide,
puffing away
on an eight dollar smoke.

I have a three-quarter fifth
in my left hand,
an icy-cold brew
in my right.

Slowly but surely,
I start to grasp
the big picture.

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the man in front and the next man down

Look at the poor suckers,
all lined up,
waiting to die,
tapping their feet
impatiently,
stretching their necks
to see past the shoulders
of the man
in the front.

“What the fuck
is taking so long?”
they think to themselves,
as the man in front
wonders
why the guy in front of him
just jumped off
the bridge.

The next man down
will push him,
and the crowd
will cheer him on.

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big brother is watching you

Out on the deck,
looking down
at some lake in Oklahoma,
disinterested
in the trappings of the day,
swirling what passes
for good Scotch
in a plastic cup,
and feeling classy as I do so.

Scotch does that sometimes.

I peer out towards the dock,
and a large group of kids
and keepers of kids
board a large boat,
and venture out
to meet the sun
that I so desperately avoid.

I look down,
and the sun reflects up
from the water,
refracting itself
through the bottle,
taunting me,
as if to tell me,
there is no escape.

The kids are gone,
and the screaming follows suit,
and I am alone,
minus the obnoxious rattle
of the neighbor’s wind-chimes.

I breathe relieved,
and at last,
a new enemy.

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a case of mistaken identity

I met her at a bar,
because she thought
I was someone she knew,
a case of mistaken identity.

She apologized,
and struck up a conversation,
likely her intent, all along.

We went out on the deck,
and I lit a cigar.

She danced to Coltrane,
and the moonlight
kissed her everywhere
that the smoke did not.

Damn my luck,
that all the good ones
are spoken for.

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lesser than the sum of their parts

He worked his ass off
for a few bucks over minimum,

sweating buckets

as the line
brought more steel plates
for him to shear off,

more plates
for the next guy
to punch the holes,

more fucking plates
to send down the line
for powder-coating,
or the welding shop,
or maybe the paint line.

The plates
were part of
something bigger,
greater
than the sum
of their parts,
as they say.

A proud man,
he liked to think
that he was,
as well.

He put in his thirty,
and retired,
before the automation
of the entire line
took effect.

They even
brought him a cake,
with his name misspelled,
in blue frost cursive.

When he told everyone
he was replaced
by a machine,
he meant the company.

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