I stood in a parking lot and I breathed
evenly through my nose as the sky passed
slowly overhead and the nauseating machines
pumped juice out of the ground and I had my
arms spread like Christ against a fence.

“I really can’t stand this place,” said a voice
in my brain like a mantra as I sagged against a
fence, waiting to die in the parking lot of a
building in an industrial park in the afternoon
on a coffee break that altered nothing at all.

My brain pulsed with the rhythm of my mantra
as I stepped back into the carpeting and the
air conditioning and the cubicles and offices
of an artificial environment that consumes most
of my life and what is left of the lives inside.

Later, as I prepared to leave, my boss crept into
my cubicle and silently sat down in the only other
chair and, as she sat there with her pregnancy drooping
into the space between her thighs, I looked at
her, resentfully, and awaited her instructions.

Image credit:Matthew Henry

Douglas Goodwin's books include Hung Like a Hebrew National, Half Memory of a Distant Life, and Slamming it Down. The latter two include a foreword by Charles Bukowski, who championed Goodwin's verse and corresponded with Goodwin over several years. Much of the Goodwin-Bukowski correspondence appears in the feature "Letters to Douglas Goodwin" in the 2015/16 edition of the Charles Bukowski Society Jahrbuch 2015/16, edited by Roni and Sönke Mann, out of Bamberg, Germany. Goodwin also collaborated with poet Steve Richmond on the literary magazine stance in the 1980s.