Sticking It to the Man
Lateeka's working, my favorite teller--
she's got wild nail art & fire red/
In line: young guy in hi-tops w/ipod,
black blazer girl on her lunch hour.
Lateeka & I always talk hair & makeup,
she's in school for accounting.
A guy with 20-inch arms in a Hines Ward jersey/
cut off at the sleeves,
a white-haired woman with
a cane & her daughter
Restaurant guy walks up to the window
with a bagful of receipts--
the blonde teller working the line
leaves her post & exits side-door,
so it's Lateeka & people
roll their eyes & grumble:
Oh great, now there's only one teller up there.
Steeler guy shakes his head:
Jesus Christ, do you believe this?
Daughter to mother:
Why don't you sit down?
Blazer girl turns:
I'm late for an appointment.
Steeler guy waves his massive arms wide
like he's going out for a pass:
Hey, I got an idea--
why don't we shut this shit down & open up a bank?
We turn to see his arms jabbing the air
like he's trying to grab it down--
his neck red with rage.
He barrels out the door & we bust into
laughing, the air full with mutiny:
1 new spot open, we inch forward like
fat cattle, clutching our checks
a little less tightly.
We have won for the day,
we are sticking it to the man.
Used by permission.
From The Switching Yard (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013).
Photo by Thomas Sayers Ellis.
Jan Beatty's fourth full-length book, The Switching/Yard, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in February, 2013. Other books include Red Sugar, finalist for the 2009 Paterson Poetry Prize; Boneshaker, finalist, Milton Kessler Award; Mad River, Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize-all published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Individual poems have appeared in journals such as TriQuarterly, Gulf Coast, Court Green, and Best American Poetry 2013. She was a featured poet at the 2010 Split This Rock Poetry Festival.
Beatty worked as a waitress for fifteen years, and as a welfare caseworker, an abortion counselor, and a social worker and teacher in maximum-security prisons. She is the managing editor of MadBooks, a small press that has published a series of books and chapbooks by women writers. For the past twenty years, Beatty has hosted and produced Prosody, a public radio show on NPR affiliate WESA-FM featuring the work of national writers. She has lectured in writing workshops across the country, and has taught at the university level for over twenty years at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Carlow. Beatty directs the creative writing program at Carlow University, where she runs the Madwomen in the Attic writing workshops and teaches in the MFA program.
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