October 20, 2005



This is for the cleaners,
bullshit artists,
over-your-head warriors that is the American economy

For every glamorous job,
we told our guidance counselor at school that we wanted,
and now 5 years, 10 years, 20 years later
we don’t even remember what that was;
this is for you.
For every person who comes home from work
and has to think of ways to unwind
this is for you.

This is for the intake nurse at the detox center;
the barista brewing espresso on bad poetry night;
the janitor sweeping up shit who’s really a tenor;
the teacher in the detention room breaking up a fight;

This is for those who flag traffic in construction zones;
the chip manufacturer wearing a “clean” suit;
the maintenance man at the sewage treatment plant enjoying headphones:
the constipated who don’t like fruit;

This is for those working security at any of the president’s visits;
the press secretary after the administration’s been indicted;
the janitorial staff at the White House after Bush has taken a shit;
the mother burping artificially inseminated quintuplets,
who’s not the least bit delighted;

This is for the trash man responsible for picking up fridges after Hurricane Katrina
the Creative Writing major judging a poetry slam,
the critic who’s got to say something positive when J’Lo plays Athena;
the cocaine addict mysteriously losing his last gram.
This is for dreamers who’ve stopped remembering
the hopeful who’ve stopped being ambitious,
the hungry who’ve stopped coveting
the gullible who’ve started being suspicious.

You, who dreamed big
and thought talent, desire, hard work enough,
in the fixed game of the American economy.
This is for you.

This is for the people who think Roger Ebert really likes all those movies;
that adolescent males enjoy a good tease
and monkeys are happy living in trees.
This is for those who think the editors of Best American Poetry
really think W.S. Merwyn writes a great fucking poem every year.
This is for the people who like really bad beer.
This is for those who can’t remember becoming a “Sir,”
and had crushes on girls who thought of you as a brother.
This is for those who don’t even know who W.S. Merwyn is,
and think listening to some poems is about as much fun as taking a quiz.
This is for you.

You, whose life feels like a prison
who buy a new car that’s a lemon,
whose trips to dentist result in pulled teeth
who never take down their holiday wreath.
This is for you.
This poem’s for you.
You who live to forget,
who live to escape,
who are marking your time.

These words are for you,
Take them, do what you want,
I’m through.

October 20, 2005

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