By Preston Caruso
Four, real, crisp dollars
For a single sandwich slightly larger than a child’s palm
Four Quarters, ten dimes, I don’t know how many nickels,
And way too many pennies.
I’m trying to think about all the work
About the chickens penned up in hotboxes
Ungodly, inflated abominations, artificial muscles loose with enzymes
Trying to count out how much misery it might be worth
Or the farmers, walking in to the pens every so often to pick up the dead corpses
Not knowing what got them, but praying all the same it doesn’t get the rest.
What pays for their good night’s sleep?
Or the misery of the workers who live in a bubble of clucks and screams
Lift, chop, carve, lift, chop, carve, lift, chop, carve.
Everything adhered and stingingly slick with partials of entrails.
No matter how much you scrub or wipe own or clean.
A little bit of your skin always grazes invisible muck
How much is trickled down then, a few dimes? A quarter?
Who pays the man who takes it, back and forth?
Riding along the road, a gentle itch buried deep somewhere
Sometimes satiated by distant memories of a throw back
Or the spur of some broadcaster, clenching his fumes?
Can one of my dollars satiate his fears?
Of loneliness, of morphing into something inhuman by the fishbowl?
The wheat farmers, the Americans who keep them afloat
Their break being repacked, reawaked, rising a little in the heat of the stove
I only see the bright, smiling youngster.
Always thin, always with something in their hair
I’ve never known someone to work here that hasn’t been lost
For a sandwich with salt swirling around my mouth
For too rough breading and near liquefied pickles