The Clerk

theclerk  The Clerk


i drove to the gas station to fill-r-up
took  $20 & hoofed it
where The monosyllabic Clerk looked down
at the register
calling everyone
“hereyagoHun” after each transaction handin’ out
or receipts for items purchased –
his terms of endearment rang

some  grandma in schlocky white shades
two people aheada me coughed like a wombat
then ordered
2 packs of smokes – “camel lights” she barked in a crusty chum
as if ‘lights’ mattered to her blackened lungs
then she painfully scrounged
inside a bottomless pit of a purse
for change as the rest of the line squirmed
in the fossilized time it took for
The Clerk to sort & count
the coins on the grimy counter while
grandma bitched about
the rising costs
of inhalin’ a carton of nicotine
butane and arsenic

the pollard after granny was slobberin’ into his cell
pretendin’ to us inside captives
to be coagulatin’ some big business deal
but put the “big deal” on hold for The Clerk while he paid
his stipend
shovin’ his credit card into low hangin’ shorts
exposin’ inside-out boxers
probably getting’ one more day’s wear

the greasy punk in backwards cap
was pissed-off and spoutin’ big-shot loud about his loss
at the vending machine
as if all the money in the world was
The Clerk pacified him quickly with
a crumpled one dollar bill
The Clerk’s words greeted everyone equally
with no malice

i paid cash and went to pump the gas
when the pump hit $19.34 it started that slow crawl to 20.00
I loathed The Clerk and his power and hated
every one of the 66 changes
of numbers laughin’ in my face –
how did the clerk assign you a number like that –
do i look like a person you stop at $19.34
why not $19.86 or $19.99

the pump stopped and the receipt went ding
ding ding – did i want it
i would not dignify an answer
the line inside now took on centipede proportions
connected bodies from behind
in various shapes sizes and smells
all waitin’ out the door for The Clerk’s approval –
heads movin’ about like dashboard dogs
like subjects waitin’ for a glance at the king
on a hot and humid summer afternoon –
glad i no longer had on cement shoes
scrunched between phone yakkers
bellyachers and dirty underwear advertisers

i was about to get into my truck when
The Clerk was finished with his day’s work
and held the door open for the lady
on the next shift
“hereyagoHun” he said as he closed the door
securely behind her
then walked head down readin’ pavement
to his beat up yellow dodge with
the gray bondo on the right fender

i pulled away
imaginin’ him goin’ back home
to a bossy cryogenic marriage
to a screamin’ colicky baby
to barkin’ excited mongrels
where he would stand in the kitchen makin’ dinner
with dogs at his feet – baby in his arms
before settin’ the oven timer to 19:34 for fish sticks –
afterwards The Clerk is lost to a parade of needs
and deeds
catchin’ up after the day’s messes

and finally when the others are masked within slumber
and the house tethers itself
in between the quiet glow of the half moon and
soft ambient midnight shadows
The Clerk props open the kitchen door letting
the dogs out one last time and
sits down with a profound deflatin’ thickness
on the stoop
inhalin’ a fresh cigarette
lettin’ the smoke allay all thoughts
and when the hounds comes running back
he stubs out his butt – opens the door
and says “hereyagoHun”
as feet and nails patter across the tile
to the saggin’ couch
The Clerk drenched in canis
relaxes and watches infomercials
until he and his pack nod off into
the unquenchable power of dreams…

2 thoughts on “The Clerk

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s