I have a map for navigation around my cubicle.
When a tank is hauled by on the drink cart, I know
It’s time to quit. My nights are spent wandering
The vast storm sewers with children abandoned
By their caretakers. I too have been forsaken,
I too am homeless. A black ice cream truck playing
Flight of the Valkyries goes creeping by.
We peek from manholes for a whiff of exhaust.
Then when day cracks like a robin’s egg,
It’s back to calculations. I’m wearing clothes
I lifted from an immigrant’s line. Outside
My window, the trees are tentatively
Budding; the opposite side of a stop sign is mildly
Reflective; a dandelion clock keeps bearing down.
But I make my calculations: I can feel the world opening
Its mouth to scold me. I’m balancing on a tightrope
Of razor wire in the bathroom stall; I’m washing my hands as if
Going to a birth. In the wilds beyond the parking lot
Animals are brooding – I like to know where they stand.
They stand in the long shadows going through
Their routines, which aren’t in the least bit funny.
Another ice cream truck: this time it’s Mary
Had a Little Lamb. My pay stub comes. It says,
“You don’t deserve an entire limb.” Maybe I’ll
Hobble back to my sewer if I can throw away my crutches.
Somewhere someone puts an ice cream cone
On a pet mouse’s head and calls it a dunce hat.
Somewhere a family of motor mouths gets drive-though.
Oh, to hear my name announced on the intercom.
To get flattened like a pancake and used as a mattress.
No wonder everyone’s sheets get stained with blood.
Still, calculations keep landing in my in-box.
I must keep making them until everything adds up at the end.