Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cartpusher Poem Video + MN Original appearance

Me, Khary Jackson and Kait Rokowski recently shot a piece with MN Original about slam poetry.  It'll air in full a bunch of times in May on TPT and you can also check the stuff online.  I performed a few poems, including this one, and talked about spoken-word, as did Khary and Kait.

This piece (the official title is "The Fist that Lives in Your Neck") is a favorite of mine to perform.  It's dedicated to anyone who has ever worked in the service industry-- cartpushers, servers, cashiers and everyone.  I hope you like it.

Related to this, I'm not slamming this year.  I qualified for the St. Paul team finals, but my summer is just too hectic already with shows, recording, promo, Canvas stuff, residency work, MN Activist stuff and a million other things.  If you want to see me perform poetry this summer, book me, haha.



It’s not rocket science. It’s a ten-foot piece of rope
with a hook at the end; we got three of ‘em hanging
in the equipment shed—one of ‘em is thicker, but
a little shorter; and one of ‘em looks thin as shoelaces
but it’s a good half-foot longer. If you got first pick, take
that one—looks flimsy, but you’ll break before it does.

Because these are the days before robots and this is a city
where people leave their empty apartments, leave
their empty SUVs and finally, leave their empty
shopping carts. Here. For us. You can hook seven together
with that rope and push ‘em back in. When it’s busy, grab
ten. When it’s hell, stack thirty up and we’ll push ‘em in

together. Just be careful. ‘Cause these people will look right
through you when they back out of those spots, when they take
that corner at thirty miles per hour, when they forget
that they forgot to use a blinker and cuss you out for walking
through a crosswalk. See, to that guy, right there, we’re just
background noise, uncredited extras in the eighty-year long

made-for-TV romantic comedy that he calls life. We are neurons
flickering stupidly, infantry stomping through the dreams
he won’t remember upon awakening. So make sure you wear
comfortable shoes. Boots in the winter. Sneakers in the
summer. Add pads as you grow older. Grow older. Learn
to control a convoy of carts without that rope; just balance,

coordination and will. Learn to control the fist that lives
in your neck. When these people just leave their cart sitting
in the middle of a parking space, swallow. When they look
right through you, swallow. When it’s fifteen below
and a straightjacket would be warmer than these flimsy
company coats and you’re working a double shift because

you’ve heard rumors of layoffs and the dapper manager
saunters up and says How’s it goin’ chief? …swallow.
Understand: they will never understand this. The beauty
of a parking lot at twilight; how the sky burns blue. The
sweetness of every second when the big hand is on the
eleven. The smile of the pretty girl who actually looks

at you. We betray ourselves for seven dollars an hour. Our
native language is white noise. Cartpushers, cashiers,
janitors, servers: we are an army fighting a war we don’t
believe in in a country whose name we can’t pronounce,
but we’re fighting. And we are tired. But we’re fighting. And
we’re losing. But we’re fighting.

You get two fifteens and a half hour for lunch. The breaks
aren’t for your body, though. They’re to keep you from
going crazy. See, with an eight-hour shift broken up
into quarters, that’s just four two-hour shifts. After punching
in, chatting with the MOD and putting your gloves on, you
can glance at your watch and say Wow: I’m almost halfway

to being halfway done with half of half my shift. Makes
the time fly right by. You’ll be fine, kid. Just remember:
smile. You’re representing the company. Remember:
say hello to people when they come in. And remember:
when they look right through you,
you’re still there.


Bre said...

This is by far my favorite piece. I love it.

Anonymous said...

Just got another job in fast food, hits home hard. Keep it up.