To Troubled Laborers and Other Lonely People
When you wash the hotel beams
no metaphysical claptrap
shall rescue you from the fingerprinted
panels you scrub, no Buddha
adorn you, no Christ relieve you,
no pagan gods bathe you in mud
to purify that soul you know you haven't.
And when you go home to your entertainment
no doors in the walls will open to ancient tunnels
and no redemption shall shake your weary hands;
it's just what it is and here is where you are.
You must hallucinate to free yourself.
Steel being steel hardens your heart,
and the fingerprints you clean were left
by beam leaners whose cardboard crowns you steal.
Work a little less hard, you capitalist,
and make the most of your pay. Go on strike
and slow production, you one-woman union.
Stare at the guests and make them nervous:
They've yet to take their anti-depressants.
Now you're a queen in this one little way,
and you required no spiritual guidance to become one.
Swallow the bees and eat wasps
and frighten the a-holy customers.
Don't smile when you work; howl like a samurai,
an inward scream, silent yet heard,
bringing down this hotel beam by beam.
Paul A. Toth lives in Florida. His first novel, "Fizz," and its successor, "Fishnet," are available now, with "Finale" due in July of 2009. His poetry has been featured by The Potomac, Nth Position, Piker Press, Arabesques Review, and others.
(author retains copyright)