“Guardians of the Good” by Madeline Artenberg

Madeline Artenberg


She had a hundred unhappy men
under her, who never had a woman
boss, certainly not a slight girl.

Openers, Verifiers, Packers handled
incoming mail. When she spoke,
they cat-whistled and wiggled
their middle fingers at her.

After the Floor Captain grabbed
a cache of videotapes off
conveyor belts, men jammed
into the projection room, examined
them for anything beyond missionary.

She heard their braying,
kept to her office, cataloguing pornography
by violation and country of origin:
Denmark, Sweden, Holland.

When the Floor Captain burst
through her door, licking
his lips, he slapped
the day’s haul of magazines on her desk,
took bets on her stammer and blush.

After a while, she slept
with one eye open
while America
rested easy.

from Rattle #37, Summer 2012
Tribute to Law Enforcement Poets

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