12 Hour Shifts by Alan Catlin

Work begins at 3 in the afternoon at
the Action Stewart’s; right after the crossing
guard has left for the day.

Says, ”Even a deaf, dumb and blind guy
is going to know you’ve been here on
a regular basis. So I wait. Need my beauty
sleep anyway.”

They don’t call it a convenient store for
nothing: half a block from the cross town,
two exits from the thruway, and the turn off
closest to the Hill, where all the freight
from downstate goes.

Says, “Guys need some relief after a long,
stressful ride from the City carrying all
that weight.  I’ll work for trade: Their trade
for my ass. Even Steven. Works all around.
If they miss me on the way in, they’re loaded
on the way out. Up for anything. I’m an
anything kind of girl. But, I’m selective.
You don’t see asking no councilman for a date.
Man, was he flipped!  Girl that asked him ruined
trade for a month.  Pay for sex!  Man, was
self-righteous.  Probably that God thing he
has going on the side.  Hell, last time I had sex
for free I was fifteen.  Too many years ago to count.
It’s funny now but it was bitch then.
Lucky thing there’s more than one inner city
convenient to work.”

Says, “You know, some people claim there’s
no skill involved to what I do.  In this world,
staying alive is a skill. Makes me a real skilled
worker, don’t it?”

acatlin multi

Alan Catlin is a widely published poet in the US of A and elsewhere. His most recent book is “Books of the Dead: a memoir with poetry” about the deaths of his parents. He is a retired professional barman and the editor of the online poetry zine misfitmagazine.net.

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