I had a dream once I went to work late. I found somebody else on the machine. He messed up the hearts. The boss blamed me for it. I was so upset. Then I woke up. You have to know what you’re doing. You have to know how to adjust the machine.
—Tony Santos, 27
The candy heart maker
works sixteen hours a day.
He reads the red endearments to himself
under the roar of the machine.
HOW R U? he asks no-one. DIAL MY #.
When the hearts turn him down,
bob on past to the next pair of greasy hands,
he shakes his head NO WAY.
At night he changes light bulbs
in an office building downtown.
He whispers sweet nothings to them
when no-one else can hear—
You can hear him at the bar,
his hands clasped tight
around a beer—
He takes them home to his girl,
but they’re not free.
Three for a buck,
and still they make him pay.
After dinner, her face
folds itself into a fist
when he pulls a pack from his pocket,
tying to make conversation
before clearing the dishes away.
Two years and nothing seems to change.
He’s so tired he can’t think of anything to say.
On the way out she asks him
if she’s more than just his Sweetheart,
and he says
When he looks up
his TRUE LOVE’s gone
and there’s no-one but himself
to break the silence.
He wants to tell her
how much he loves her
but can’t adjust the machine.
—from Rattle #25, Summer 2006
Tribute to the Best of Rattle
Micki Myers: “I am currently working on a series of poems that give voice to American advertising icons to hear what they have to tell us about what it’s like behind the scenes and the nature of celebrity.” (website)