I see them, standing in line
to talk about
but it’s not a good story—
it’s a horse whipping.
I can see their lips curling back with pleasure
exposing their teeth
“She doesn’t know what she’s doing, and we have to pretend like she does…”
“I heard, she got a vote of no confidence, but before the teachers went public
she slipped into a new job, like one of those dresses she wears
that don’t fit.”
“She has no shame. Nobody wants to see her figure.”
“I heard; her second marriage is on the rocks.”
back of the line, and tried to be invisible.
I didn’t know workplace gossip lasted all summer.
I avoided their petulant gaze
I didn’t want their petulant praise
because it’s as false as they are.
I watched a man that I admire. He knows what he’s doing
48 cans of beer
and 2 bottles of Absolute Vodka.
A retired engineer, I think
His hand shakes
when he pays the cashier
He stinks, like alcohol
red in the face
with eyes like a lizard
He pushes his cart out of the store
There are many reasons to drink.
The absolute pleasure in life
is to escape, THEM
The alternative is to endure the trauma of their drama
At first, it made me angry
After that, no problems.
I don’t know what they’re talking about
They say what they think I am
and we’re like strangers, to each other
again, and again
but we can’t quite remember
who we are
and this amnesia, is welcome.
They invent stories about me
while I write about them.
They exclude me
while I want to be left alone.
We have a working relationship.