Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Prisoner Number

My prisoner number
Is 213424
I have it memorized
My cell
My cubicle
Is five by five
Too small for me
To stretch out or
Lay down
I cannot see my co-workers
They cannot see me
This is the system
That they all voted for
When asked if they
Preferred a more
Open system
No they said
They wanted
They chose
The closed off cubicle system
The lighting is blinding
Overhead bright white
Florescent tubes
That some say
Promotes brain cancer
I think that they might be right
Anyway the light glare
Is blinding
After eight hours a day
Five days a week
Staring at a computer screen
It is a wonder
That we haven’t
All gone blind by now
My prisoner number
Is 213424
I have it memorized
This job has ruined my health
I am chained to a desk
Eight hours a day
I am a program analyst
A trained monkey
Could easily do my job
I work in a big city
Child welfare bureaucracy
I am a very small cog
In a very big
Clockwork orange machine
That never closes
Never shuts down
After twenty or so years
I am ready for retirement
I am a short timer
I am counting the days
Weeks, months
Until I am paroled
I get no time off
For good behavior
I get no time off
For bad behavior
I get two weeks vacation
But I am not paid enough
To afford to go anyplace
So I do house work
Until it is time to
Go back to the office
I will never get my health back
I will never get my youth back
I have heard stories of co-workers
Who die a year or two after
They retire
Some are given a retirement party
Most are not
Most just work their last day
And are never heard from again
For all intents and purposes
We short timers mostly have grey hair
We are easy to spot
Because half of us can barely walk
The few blocks to and from the
Nearest bus stop
Nearest train stop
We have been squeezed dry
All the juice is gone
All the get up and go
Has likewise gone
Mostly I am just tired
Bone tired
My joints ache
I can only walk
Half a block
At a time
Without getting winded
I do like
Sitting in the park
Feeding the pigeons
Watching the passersby
And I do like
Watching the children play
I also have to take a lot of meds
These days
That is when
I can remember
To take them
Otherwise my eyes
Get so blurry
I sometimes
Cannot tell
If it is day
Or night

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

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