alexandre arnau

Rookie (9.26.72 -? / new york city)

My New Job/Something Clean - Poem by alexandre arnau

it was the first day of orientation
i didn't want to go
not really
but i went
with a thick lead chain
coiled in my stomach
like a sick cobra
hands shoved in pockets
grabbing dust and darkness

we four of us
sat around and listened
to a soft faced woman
explaining the ins and outs
of mental retardation
most of which i'd heard before
but she told it well
so i listened

we sat
the four of us
the hispanic lady
who talked to hear herself
the tired old man
who told horribly boring stories
and the girl with the full hips
excited and young
happy to be here

i didn't want to be here
i wanted to be
in a place where there
were no group homes
or handicapped people
where birds sang at midnight
roses never die
and all water
is fresh water

on our lunch break
i went to the alley
where smokers were banished to
punished for being too lazy
to commit suicide all at once
sitting in the sun
the sweet midday sun
i worked the chill
from my fingers
basking like an alligator
between carrion desserts

a woman was hosing down the alley
pushing the cigarette butts
and candy wrappers
further down the alley
the water trickled down
the alley past my feet

in the sun
the midday sun
the dirty hose water glittered
like diamond dusted stars
at twilight in the country
i thought about that spring
in vermont
where i went to a workshop
for young writers
at middlebury college
they gave us kids a tour
including the cabin at breadloaf
it's said
robert frost wrote some of
his best work

as a teenage hoodlum
with no interest in poetry
i have to say i was still

i thought about
the river by the cabin
and my amazement
and fear
at seeing fresh running water
for the first time
water i could drink
swim in
bathe in
jump naked in
like a mad faun in heat


i went back inside
when lunch was over
and sat through a few more hours
of idle chitchat
and lecturing
still thinking about that
and how maybe
there are some things
in this filthy world
that are still good
and unstained
and i think i'll hold on
to that thought
for myself and
for you and
for all of us

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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 10, 2006

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