Looking For Work - Poem by Alison Luterman
Consider the pigeons of the city,
how in their filthy swoop and dive they fatten
on dusty Dorito crumbs;
consider their evolution
through generations of squawk and squalor,
peck and fight. (And what did it take for that one,
strutting his kingly amethyst ruff,
his neck sheen of subdued emerald,
his fat gray feathers of survival,
to survive here?)
Consider the homeless man outside Albertson's,
approaching every car with his rags and Windex,
whose far-distant ancestor
was able to track and kill
the wildebeest, the antelope, and the cape hare.
Consider how far he has come,
listening to his ipod between customers,
and yet how faithful he stays to the wild
dictates of seek and hunt and gather,
scoping out the best shelters for meals,
the cleanest beds, the one
tight face still able to open.
Consider your bank account,
dipping like a low-flying bird,
then spreading wings and planing
over the fields of dead numbers,
canceled checks, ancient pay stubs,
long afternoons bought and paid for
in boredom and lost purpose. And the live
bodies of your brothers and sisters, crushed
in the trash compactor of Unwanted Ads.
marching in and out of these institutions
in your skirt and nylons, leaving ferocious lipstick tracks
on styrofoam coffee cups,
your name and address on application forms,
like one of your ancestors peeing on a thorn bush.
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