the workers

we are the workers, the telemarketers and associates, frayed-collar seasonals
and scuffed-shoe temps, assemblers of components and stackers of goods,
salt of the earth, populating battlefield and factory and giant retail outlet,
we are the shareholders of scraps, hard-scrabbling for a can of peas
and a ticket to the game

we are the workers, we take no franchise, all but silent save
the muttering of complaint (they’ll fire you if they hear you say that)
we puff our cigarettes just outside steel-plated back doors, our exhaled smoke
bright in the winter sun, our breath smoky in the cold morning air

we are the workers, we watch from the sidelines, from balcony seats, from back rows
we are the men and women who take the late shift, who clean up the mess,
scouring and buffing, sweeping and dusting, making the world shine spotless and bright

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

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