by Joe Weil

It was a terrible year
when Micheal Jackson was God,
and Diana Ross was his mother.
Forget getting layed.
I worked a factory, grave yard shift,
came home at nine in the morning,
belched forth by the 58 bus,
opened a bottle of Becks
just to wash the steel chips from my mouth,
kissed the baby my sister pushed out
at 17. I got 4 hours sleep if lucky,
if the next door neighbor’s husband’s best friend
wasn’t over, doing coke, banging the best friend’s wife–
and if he was, I’d lie there on the other side of the wall,
hearing her moan, the bed springs squeek, the head board
shake my crucifix. Sweet Chirst, I’d see her
lugging laundry the next day, and she’d wave.
On such mornings, I was
wide awake — past All My Children, General Hospital,
past eyewitness news– exhausted, horny, so lonely
I walked with a limp.
On friday nights, the men would drink and drug. We called it
Friday Night at The Emergency room.
They lost fingers, hands, crushed feet, tore their
lives on drill presses, lost their minds and wept
for want of the receptionist.
I was one of them. I have always been one of them.
I write to stay alive, to tear the veil from this covenant–
those nights when it would snow,
and I walked out on the loading dock at 2 am,
just to hear the silence, away from my machine,
the cold air biting my arms. I took a deep breath
and lived. I took a deep breath and sang
the song of my father– the broken tune he knew,
the secret ghosts he walked with–
and I was grateful for the snow, and not even
the worst could have killed me
because my soul
was a ten fingered hand.