March 18, 2013

Richard Vargas

THE COMPANY PROVIDES A FREE LUNCH
ON THE DAY IT LAYS OFF 250 EMPLOYEES

we turn off our computers at noon
carry a box with our personal items
framed family pics and employee
of the month coffee mugs
small potted plants and clock radios

we are led down the hallway
with its antiseptic floors and offwhite
walls to the free lunch
they are providing before we
are shown the door one last time
some hold on to their boxes as
if they are naked and are
trying to hide their genitals

we march by the HR table
in order to pick up our severance
we must sign release papers that
prevent us from telling
others what was done to us
how it made us feel
to be blackmailed
into silence

we stand in line
we are given
one rib
one piece
of chicken
a small plastic
container of
cole slaw
one-third of
a cob of corn
a tab of butter substitute
wrapped in foil
packages of salt
and pepper (one each)
BBQ sauce also in
a small plastic cup

a roll
a cookie
one white plastic fork
and knife
a crisp neatly folded
white paper napkin

one can of soda
(off brand)

from Rattle #37, Summer 2012