I tried to write a pantoum poem
about the repetition of my days
I thought the repetition involved in the form
would echo the repetition of my days
the pantoum was to be about my job
cleaning the Super Target parking lot every day
how I pace that big hot black sea of pavement
and those gravel islands up and down
picking up the trash thrown by the Starbuck-slurping shoppers
who can’t wait until they get home to rip into their purchases
and fling the tags and hangers
and wrappers and bags to the earth
as if it was their God-given right
and the homeless braindead zombie drug addicts
with faces like mutilated clocks
who lean into the garbage cans looking for their souls
or that moment when their lives went sideways
how they toss the refuse out
faster than I can put it back in
how they sit against the wall in their nests of waste
Poptart boxes and filthy clothes and cans of soup
and the thousands of little pieces of aluminum foil
that they smoke their drug from
scattered around like Christmas tinsel
or the leavings of chocolate kisses
how they leave hard black admirably articulated turds
in broad daylight
how they go into Super Target and grab what they want
bolt out the emergency exit doors
as if they have cheated death
how they have thrown their lives away
just as I have thrown away mine
how they ask me what time it is
as if they have somewhere to be
but no
my Pantoum fizzled out around the 3rd stanza
I did not have the discipline and it just seemed dumb
when I tried to describe the big green dumpster
that hulks guiltily in its fouled steel crib
like an immovable object against an unstoppable force
how I feed it until it vomits
how it repeats day after day and how it is a hard task
to always be the same man
what is clean in the afternoon is dirty again each morning
there is a sad feeling that nothing is going anywhere
like I’m spinning my wheels
and even the wind plays games with me moving
what I need to pick up just out of my reach
how I chase it across the parking lot like a dream
how I try to think of the job as exercise
in a stoic resolve
and remember how they said the secret to freedom
is holding death in contempt
and envying no one
and wanting what you have
and to not let the idea of a failing society
and a blind existence worm its way in
or the thought that it is not exactly a repetition
but a downward spiral
how I pass by the storefront where the doors sense me
and open to let out the fresh breeze from inside
that smells of new clothes and soft pretzels
where the floors are crematorium white
where I go inside to use the bathroom like the bums
and wash my hands
and try not to look in the mirror
at the old man who tried to write a pantoum
to give his day some music
and some meaning
but only threw it in the trash and went to work