John Graham : All In a Day’s Work : Poetry : September 2019

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I grew up in Easley, South Carolina, and now reside in Hendersonville, North Carolina. The closest I came to living in the northeast was when I lived in Maryland, and I lived there only a few months.

All In a Day’s Work

Candy Bar

I entered the bar
through the back door
by the pool tables
Into that cigarette of a room
No one at the bar looked up
I had a box of chocolate bars
under my arm
and a money bag in my hand
A lady sat at the bar
dressed too nice for the place
She sat on the stool
her dress hem rose
about four inches above her knee
The bend of her leg
and sheen of her hose
formed a line
that diverged
mid-calf and thigh
“What you selling pumpkin?”
I didn’t answer
My eyes moved from her leg
to her face
tired and sexy
her makeup thin
“Come over here.”
I came
“You selling candy?”
Yes Mam
“Call me Liz, Baby. How much for a candy bar?”
One dollar, Liz.
She laughed.
“Tell you what, I’ll buy two. I’ll have one, and you’ll have one, and I’m gonna feed it to you.”
I handed her two chocolate bars
and she stuffed two dollars into my shirt pocket
She placed one bar down
The other she unwrapped
tearing the paper and foil
in a spiral
and broke off a small piece
She held it in front of me
“Open. Bite. Chew.”
I did as she told me
“That’s good, isn’t it pumpkin. Now run along. Before this place corrupts you.”
It all ready had
I left the same way I came in
and threw the chocolate bars in a dumpster
The two bills in my pocket were


Job Satisfaction

We unloaded the boxes
Off the fifty-three foot trailer
Sling sling sling the boxes
Stack stack stack them on pallets
I would print the labels as we went
Sometimes the printer would jam
No labels
We just kept going
Sling sling sling
Stack stack stack
Then that bastard would walk over
Slam the boxes down
“What is this?”
he’d say
‘I don’t know’
‘You figure it out’
‘That’s your job’
but I didn’t
He would just stand there
Staring at us
Until I gave him an answer that didn’t satisfy
In a job
that didn’t satisfy
It’s a miracle that more people aren’t murdering one another
at work



“What is this?” the forman asked
‘It holds up the walls’ I said
I believed he was asking me
What the rails did
Years went by
And now I’m a bit more keen
Picking up on the jokes
There is more to them
People are not just kidding when they kid
They’re telling some truth
Wrapped in a lie
Not realizing its dysfunction
I suppose I am not honest-
All the time
The truth hurts
I’ve met the truth people
And they are insufferable