Vox Populi

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Jason Baldinger: Résumé

dear human resources manager 
I know you get millions of pieces of paper
from job hungry applicants
that you don’t give a fuck about 
much as we don’t give a fuck about you 
but capitalism hasn’t ended
I mean it theoretically ended 
when the Industrial Revolution was pronounced dead 
but capital’s endless exploitation is still rampant 
apparently just to live                     
                    just to experience life 
is not an acceptable trade
I suppose it doesn’t matter 
that this is not meaningful work 
there are mostly retail and service jobs 
left for low-wage workers 
who could only be so lucky
to dream about a universal basic income 
or for that fact free health care 
so I’ll happily wait on Americans 
who somehow believe that material possessions 
will somehow fill the emptiness 
in their hearts
I can’t tell you what intangible qualities 
I offer. I’m quick with new tasks 
I’ve run businesses for friends dying of cancer
I work hard when there’s work to be done 
I think outside of the box
I like to write poems and daydream 
I want to cry at least once a day 
because the world is beautiful 
because the world is sad 
because I might be hungover 
because existence is ultimately futile
I can tell you I won’t spend more than 
two hours a day in the bathroom 
writing poems 
on paper or on the stall walls 
if I choose the walls 
I promise you’ll have 
incredibly articulate customers 
I’ll even hide a dictionary 
behind the toilet for customers to translate 
because sometimes I get a penchant 
to use a five-dollar word 
I’ll happily volunteer my Webster’s 
that I stole in eighth grade 
it has space guns drawn in the margins 
but it’s served me well 
for almost thirty years 
I have no idea where I’ll be in five years 
in ten years, hell if any of us could see 
that far into the future we wouldn’t be sitting 
here waiting for a fucking job 
hell, I’m still not sure what I want to be
when I grow up, or maybe I know 
but people don’t pay poets money 
people don’t believe in art 
people only believe 
in money or a god that don’t exist 
they long for an afterlife
like I long for early retirement 
I promise I won’t say that out loud
I think it’s safe to say I’m highly adaptable 
last week I installed cabinets one day 
hung a suspended ceiling the next 
I sold records for friends in my spare time 
I wrote and submitted poems 
agreed to do another benefit show 
then woke up and was a book mule 
I drank beer on my break 
because it tasted good 
and I was tired and it was offered 
and I learned a long time ago 
that you should always say no 
in moderation
seriously, I’ve sold paint to people 
I’ve been cursed out for not having the key 
to the narcotics locker when I managed a drug store 
I pretended once to care about office supplies
sporting goods, deli meat, detailing cars 
processing checks, auto parts 
and that doesn’t count all the things
that I may have pretended to care about 
because I needed a job then 
as I need a job now
I ask that if you drug test 
I’ll pass as long as you don’t test for marijuana 
I know it’s still sort of illegal 
I promise I won’t smoke it before 
a shift or in the middle of a shift 
I do like it socially 
generally, it’s the only way 
I get a good night’s sleep
and that’s important for productivity
that’s what you want right
happy and productive workers 
anesthetized and dreamless
wading through their lives
just getting by 
constantly careening 
at the drop edge of broke 
a paycheck away from being hungry 
a paycheck away from being homeless 
a paycheck away from hope

First published in Heartland: Poems of Love, Resistance and Solidarity (2017)

Jason Baldinger

2 comments on “Jason Baldinger: Résumé

  1. melpacker
    January 28, 2020

    Jason Baldinger, a brilliant working-class poet willing to scream about the human crimes of capitalism. Thanks to Jason and to Vox Populi for posting. Readers should share this widely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      January 28, 2020

      Thanks, Mel. Contemporary American poetry has been dominated by the MFA industry for the last two generations. It’s great to read a poet like Baldinger who records what life is like for most Americans.


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