By Jonie McIntire, Lucas County Poet Laureate
When we write about what we know, work weasels its way into our writing. For many of us, we see our co-workers more than we see our own families as work consumes huge spans of our time. In this poem, we learn not only about the physical environment of the workplace, but the relationship of co-workers. We are, after all, in this together. The use of specific images and movement reveal so much about a simple moment at work and paint a clear picture of empathy.
At the Jeep plant today,
from across the commissary, I saw
Becky Lautner (that’s not her real name)
hook her two rough thumbs
through the fabric of her Iron Maiden t-shirt
deep into some recess of her brassiere,
and with a slight wince and a sort of
swooping grace hoist her two, frankly massive
breasts into a more comfortable, or maybe
just a less uncomfortable position.
And if that’s not enough
already to spark notice, she then
heaved out such a cathartic sigh of relief
that even I felt it from all the way across this
vast field of laminate tabletops and Bakelite
lunch trays, and it made me instantly, and
hopefully forgivably, feel a little guilty
for complaining about my aching feet.
originally published in Every Broken Little Thing, by Adrian Lime (Luchador Press, 2022)
Here is an idea that may evoke you to write a poem.
PROMPT: Make a list of items related to your work or workplace. Think of a moment where you noticed a co-worker, maybe stressed or excited or in the thick of their work. Write about the moment, placing yourself or another person in the scene to help us understand the relationships or power structures involved. The items you choose should reveal information about the work and how workers relate to the work and to each other.
Using the Prompt, your Assignment Editor wrote:
By Kyle ALison Cubbon
Sitting at the kitchen table
looking out the window
enjoying my flowers
and the birds they attract
I await my weekly work zoom meeting.
Editors, publisher, tech people
Papers, newsletters, SEO, Slack, emails, change, improvement.
An American Goldfinch lands on a sunflower.
What’s that you said?
I wasn’t paying attention.