Winter 02






In the bins I open a box
of nuts and scoop them into my pockets.
I'm learning what work is, earning
a buck an hour at a job
no one wants, blustering down
long corridors, my polished
shoes clacking against linoleum.
Already my t-shirt is damp

with sweat in the 90-degree heat
and the trucks from downtown bearing
their heavy cargoes downshift at
Steak 'n' Shake as they turn
the corner and head toward the loading dock.
Already Joe, the foreman, a lifer
at Famous & Barr, calls my name,
"First shipment, Friedman—

where are you?" in his scratchy
unmusical voice. All day,
as I deliver merchandise
to kitchen, clothing, sporting goods
appliances, I eat sunflower seeds
and spit out the shells, leaving
a trail through the store so anyone
looking for me knows where I've been.


Jeff Friedman's poems have appeared in many literary magazines, including American Poetry Review, Poetry, The Antioch Review, The Missouri Review, Manoa, New England Review, 5 AM, and New Virginia Review. His third collection of poetry, Taking Down the Angel, has recently been published by Carnegie Mellon University Press.