workzine

Lauren Henley, 10/31/10

Current Occupation: Substitute Teacher
Former Occupation: Special Education Assistant/ Social Rec. Coach
Contact Information: Lauren Henley is a full-time graduate student and a part time substitute teacher at various high schools in Northern California. She has worked as a waitress, a hostess, a nanny/housekeeper, an English tutor, and an aid for the physically and mentally challenged. Lauren has been published in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Projector Magazine, White Pelican Review, Eclectica and other magazines. She’s grateful to have a job and to be a student.

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One Note Workaday Song

This is why I can’t work for anyone again—
the boss lady comes into the café where I sit as a patron
reading Kinnell’s Selected, and she’s got the usual four heads,
all of them having three eyes a piece. The guy with the twelve-gauge
captive bead ring in his septum leans against a wall,
clad in a dirty apron, push broom in hand,
like he’s going to burst into a song of work and minimum wage,
a song of the lowly student who swipes pieces of bear claws,
éclairs and the crusts of quiche people leave on plates
in the grey tub by the water pitcher.

One of boss-lady’s heads goes right for the worker,
Chanel Number Five lips peeling back to show white teeth,
flashing wolf spider fangs, and a voice
like black berry tart three days old,
says, If you’re leaning you should be cleaning.

I have heard that voice since seventeen
when I got my first job at the Macaroni Grill. No, I have heard that voice
since the 19th century,
when I squeezed the teats of cows and cobbled shoes,
later when I stood in cobblestone allies with my boobs
shimmied up to new heights, the madam watching from the window,
whispering, higher, higher.

I heard the complaints of managers and overseers
over my mother’s own cooing,
as I passed through the birth canal.
I set to building useful objects with primary-color blocks
in my bassinet. Just rest, just rest, she’d say but I knew better.

When I take yogic breaths on a blue sticky mat
I’m breathing out that voice.
When I inhale it comes in again. When I moan in pleasure
I’m wondering if it’s a good enough moan, if it was bottled and sold
would I make any profit after the cock took its share.
When I do something for free
I calculate in my head how much my time is worth,
before and after taxes. When I’m jingling change in my pocket,
it’s to the beat of workaday drums.
The lyrics are floating in the industrial sink, they go down the drain,
they come back up.

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  1. […] Lauren Henley follows the tuneless tune of the timeless song called work. « Before Issue 2:8 October 24, 2010 […]

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