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A LIFE OF SERVICE
 

twenty six cents for vegetable beef soup
my meal for the day when i started with poetry
and would wait around hours in the student union
for the menopausal monster shift to change
to a server who didn't hate my looks
and show it by handing me a half-bowl of broth
for a dollar at wal-mart
when i happen to have one after thirty years' work
i can get a small soft drink
halfhearted scowls from the fat cashier
and at least one free refill
more if i schmooze with no witnesses near
with my hair white at fifty
i can sit without notice here in geriatrics
watching the endgame of everyone's striving
old men hide out in the snack bar while the women shop
and the grand kids go ape shit running the aisles
fixate and scream with such tunable passion
over items they can reach down from the shelves
i watch the torch being passed in a relay race
chasing goods and services
everyone's life here seems nearly used up
they dipper out their tiny pensions
so dumb that i start to forget their humanity
yet everyone seems happy here but me

Copyright 03/98 Robert N. Erman
 

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