Honorable Mention: The American Treadmill

TV on all night woke me up this morning
The clock radio is a bird with no song that just tells the time
I don’t move until the 4th time weatherman announces the forecast
Hoping it snows north and west of the city
Because I-C-E has no respect for my SUV
The temptation of calling out sick plays like a sweet song
And I want to sing every word out loud
Slowly I scrape myself off the sheets
Wake up the children singing a happy little wake up song
Saying hello to the sunny sun
Ironing white school blouses
Cooking bacon grits and eggs
Chasing groomed dressed and fed offspring out of the house
To catch the big yellow school bus
To learn to live the American way
To chase the American dream
Looking up in the glass ceiling
Sitting on the side of the tub
Sitting and thinking
Looking at my toes
A muscle twitch away from going back to bed
Cleaned up groomed up dressed up
Running into myself coming and going
Turned off every electric appliance
Spouse and I leave the house
Get in the car
For the five minute commute to work
Singing songs in prayer before I enter
The God-forsaken den of despair called the office
My prayers for natural, man-made office disasters
Went unanswered again
Serving occupational penance for being a
Short, fat, bald, white overseer on a Mississippi cotton plantation
In a prior life
At my desk I sit
Listening to my voice mail
I’m tired of hearing the cries of the
The dependent and the expectant
The needy and the greedy
Enduring the criticism of the powers that be
Serving at the pleasure of the Governor
The whims of the politicians
On the strength of the unions
Issuing free cash and food stamps
Running faster to stay in place
Working hard to keep myself in gas and pantyhose
Plotting and planning for a way out
To prove the naysayer’s wrong
That my dreams are stronger
Because I know that there is a better world
Just waiting for me to get there
Praying for six months of jury duty
Going on safari in the urban jungle
To hunt and kill my lunch
Washed it down with fruit punch
Waiting for a phone call
To bring news of afternoon deliverance
Absolution and ascension
Ambition filed away in a manila folder
Locked in a drawer waiting for retirement
Youth replaced by strained eyes and gray hairs
Too young to retire too old to quit and start anew
Stuck in a holding pattern
At quitting time
I ran out of the building like I was
Being chased by Satan
To start my second job
Picked up the children from supervised playtime
Listening to a litany of juvenile drama and angst
Evening errands and supermarket runs
Before we get home
Checking the homework of straight A students
Checking out the evening news to hear about the world run amuck
Sitting down to a quick-cooked meal
Holding court in the dining room
Surveying all that I claim on my tax returns
Doing the dishes
Downshifting and channel surfing until I find myself lost in a
Made for TV movie
Looking for happy endings that seem to only happen
To white women
Falling asleep to TV lullabies
Drifting into the world of slumber and dreams
Looking for the lamppost on the corner
To show me the way
Until the TV alarm wakes me up again
To start a new day

[img_assist|nid=10069|title=Debora Gossett Rivers|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=300|height=259]

Debora Gossett Rivers is a Philadelphia native and the author of “The Working Mind of a Working Woman”. She completed her 2nd book of poetry titled “Running Into Myself Coming and Going, released in 2010. Created MALL SCIENCE proram for girls ages 9+ in 2008.  She is a 1981 graduate of Simon Gratz High School and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1985 from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been an Income Maintenance Caseworker with the Department of Public Welfare in Philadelphia since 1988. She is married and has two children. 


Leave a Reply