Cur­rent Pho­bia

Geist - - Poetry - TANJA BAR­TEL


I came up from un­der the es­says, longed for sea-soaked beaches. A pa­per hound, build­ing-bound, I’ve over­dosed on chalk, talk.

Desks, sweater vests. I’m done re­peat­ing, beat­ing the life out of ev­ery dead poet.

Which is to say, I want a new job. I’m at a loss.

Where do school­teach­ers go when their eyes dry out? Trolling the job search sites, send­ing out re­sumés,

I hit only my cur­rent boss, with ev­ery boomerang I toss.

Been too long in­doors, trac­ing the same halls like an Etch-a-sketch. Se­cu­rity footage: me aban­don­ing my class, dis­ap­pear­ing on one screen, reappearing on an­other—now with cof­fee, pa­pers lost. Large bot­tle of painkillers in my tote bounc­ing against my hip like a maraca, I plod through the blur to file re­port cards like taxes. Iso­lated in my class­room, I’ve in­flamed passersby with my rants. Each des­per­ate col­league who es­capes my cham­ber, wob­bles off to clob­ber a neigh­bour.

At a posh re­sort I’ll be a dish­washer, that’s what.

I’ll stand all day—no sit­ting at a desk for me!— arms in a mini hot tub, a half-spa, swirling my cloth in creamy white mugs, fac­ing the ocean over a sil­very sink where cut­lery chimes like lob­sters in­side metal traps. Some­one quiet and like­able will pass me plates. My hands sponge gravy, but worry seeps in, my mind drifts from scrap­ing scraps, to my stack of job apps.

Cus­tomers crowd into my dream, wreck it.

The clat­ter of oth­ers rush­ing around me. Bas­tards in line wait­ing to pay, star­ing me down for my greasy whites. Bitchy cus­tomers, their faces through the hor­i­zon­tal space be­tween eat­ing area and dish pit, where rub­ber-gloved arms cy­cle in an end­less wa­ter­wheel.

Clean cor­po­rate hands straighten silk ties this way, then that way. A dif­fer­ent job is still a job.

The dream dis­si­pates, un­curls like an eel, cir­cles back to chain me to this desk of steel.

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