“American Dream” by Grant Quackenbush

Grant Quackenbush


I like to pretend I’m a billionaire.
It takes the edge off being broke.
When I wake up in my shoebox room
which I share with a family of rats
(I hear them at night
playing Scrabble in the walls)
I say: I choose to live this way. I like rats.
When I go to work and the boss
tells me to move faster or I’m fired
I think: I could buy this shitty company
and sell it to China if I wanted.
Lah di dah dee, trah lah lah.
Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart,
drove a 1979 Ford pickup.
Henry Ford lived modestly in Michigan.
Look Ma! I’m Henry Ford
living modestly in Brooklyn!
I’m wiping my ass with wads of cash!
I’m the richest schmuck in America!
And no one knows it but me.

from Rattle #69, Fall 2020
Tribute to Service Workers


Grant Quackenbush: “I’ve been working in the service industry since I was seventeen years old. I’m now 31. Mostly this has involved working as a bus boy or dishwasher in restaurants. During that time I began to write poetry and eventually got my MFA last year from Boston University. But now, after having gotten my MFA, I’m back to working in the service industry: I’m bartending at a hotel in Tribeca. Working in the service industry has affected my poetry by making it more raw than the average poem. I also try to use common speech and punctuation, and strive to make my poetry accessible rather than opaque and academic.”

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