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Friday, October 20, 2006


by Courtney Rae Rawls

these days he still wakes up at 4 am—
anxiety, a blunt alarm.

28 years of repetition,
he prepares his lunch like he’s on the line
bread, mayo, ham, swiss, lettuce, halve & repeat
a rhythm develops, a groove. 12 sandwiches later,

there’s no more bread and nothing to do
but watch talk shows and car commercials chanting

BUY AMERICAN which everyone in this town
already does. he never laid eyes on a toyota
until his daughter went to college on the east coast
where cars are aesthetic rather than political issues.
anymore, he’s not sure what this means, BUY AMERICAN—
laid off two years before retirement
he was told that his investment in the dream was
nonrefundable. no pension, no healthcare,
no treatment for the carpal tunnel syndrome he developed during his
tenth year. or the slipped disc during the eighteenth.
but he is hard, durable,
like a rock. so after 28 years of repetition,
he prepares his dinner like he’s on the line
and falls asleep at 10 PM—
a terse,
biting habit.

Courtney Rae Rawls is from Flint, Michigan.