Elbow Grease (Roll Up your Sleeves)- Poetry Challenge

The challenge here is to write a poem describing your reactions to your first job, assuming you've ever had one. The first job to me is like ripping off a bandaid- it's never pretty, but you have to do it, and the later you do it, the more agonizing it becomes. Awkward, exhilarating, nerve-wracking, all of the above- whatever it is, it's an experience. Now roll up your sleeves already, I want it on my desk ASAP! (I puff on a cigar, of course, as I say this.)

My smile is fierce but my shoes are untied.


Mustard yellow and three sizes too large,

The smock is tied around my midriff, token,

A nametag in rainbows, for the kids,

Inescapable hat-head,

And no one in pressed black trousers but me.


“Ma’am, what would you burger on your like?”

She goes squinty-eyed and daring.

“Too much relish, what the hell were you thinking?”

So I wrap it. Without a patty.

And dash to the back to up chuck.


“Burger, what would you sir on your like?”

His proportions are not so bold as that.

I’m left with little saliva in my mouth-

A bucket of ice to my right

I’ll go bobbing for chunks when no one is watching.


“Slide and shine, dressers!”

Sing-song and passive-aggressive, my manager.

The tray, hovering over a layer of coca-cola,

Drops onto the other side at my innocent prod-

And who do you think gets the blame?


That very first night, I ran all the way home, no pauses,

Crawled into my bed, peeled off the costume. Lay there.


In the morning, somehow, clad in mustard yellow.

And three sizes too large.

The End

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