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National Poetry Month II

Old Man in the Corner

In the dark corner of the bar 
an old man crumpled in his seat
can barely lift his glass
—each pint gets heavier
each day takes more to numb the pain.

He has given up trying to understand the source
of his grief, the reason for his expulsion
from a place, like joy, peace, or belonging.
He knows like blood coursing through his veins he was robbed.
Of what? His manliness? His hope?
His tribe. He has lost his tribe.
He has lost his job. And someone
has to pay.

Yes he knows about NAFTA
and the jobs that went to India
and the slick talkers in suits
cutting him loose from the plant
and he knows like the knife
in his stomach that they can’t
be hurt, can’t be touched
by anything he does.

And he can’t tell his buddies
they have cut off his balls.

So when he screams
get rid of all the others,
he means those who are not like him
and throughout his years
of becoming a man
he has become the foreigner

to his own heart.

(Infinite Power, Janet Vickers. Ekstasis 2016)

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