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Jason Baldinger: The Hymn at the End

It’s a mediocre day to be fired

snow, mostly flurries, it’s been four years

since the last unemployment

life is different, more complicated

it feels as if you’re gonna suffocate

this is how I identified myself for four years

it was mostly loved, mostly like breathing

she asked through phone wires

what I was going to do next, she might have meant the big next

all I could think of was leaving, driving, motion on motion


three hours later I’m in Erie, and I have no idea why

I pass a sign the wind had its way with

now it says We Sell Blow. I stand shorelines

cigarette smoke mingling with flakes, wind

I feel defeated

I feel defeated

as if it wasn’t obvious before

this fucking game is rigged

give your soul, you will be asked for more

eat shit, you will be asked to eat more

repeat until you’re too old to care, then please die


speed home, I’ve got nothing

I won’t want to talk when she gets home

I’d rather forget than rehash fresh wounds

once I hit the door, I can see

answering machine lights, winks of condolences


hey brother this is Rob. I just wanted to let

you know that when they told me they fired you

I decided that I’d had enough of this bullshit!

I handed in my keys and said fuck them

walked out. I’m at the Squirrel Cage

come have a drink with me!


next message:

Hey this is James. and when I walked in and they told

me what happened, I thought about what a pile of shit

this is, so I fucking quit right there. I’m at The Cage.

I just bought Rob a drink, you’re next if you join us


next message:

Hey it’s Gary. I stuck around for a bit, but they sent me to the bank

and I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I almost made the bank, but saw Rob

and James in The Cage laughing, and the politics of the whole thing

pissed me off. I went back without doing their banking. I called her a bitch

and stormed out. I’m at The Cage with Rob and James. Heather followed me out too.

You should come drink with us


One more message

Rob, plastered, unintelligible

I can barely make out his voice within bar 

confines, jukebox yelling, he says he’s sorry

to have missed me, they’re heading home

he thanks me for being the best boss

fuck what some corporate shill says

Jason Baldinger is a poet who lives and works in Pittsburgh.

Copyright 2019 Jason Baldinger. An earlier version of this poem appeared in The Studs Terkel Blues published by NightBallet Press.

The Squirrel Hill Cafe in Pittsburgh, known fondly as”The Squirrel Cage”

One comment on “Jason Baldinger: The Hymn at the End

  1. johnlawsonpoet
    December 19, 2019

    Reblogged this on Site Title and commented:
    Catches the spirit of the times….


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