“Listen to Your Union Workers” by T.R. Poulson

T.R. Poulson


tale of a UPS Teamster

I, too, have flown Southwest. Scrambled
for my window seat, bedraggled
by long lines like herds of cattle.
Loved to travel. Loved to travel—
to watch storm clouds unwind in blue
beyond the winglet. Never knew
the truth beneath those cow reviews.
But now I do. But now I do
the math. I work for stockholders
who’ve never done my job. Bolder
men and women open folders.
Numbers smolder. Numbers smolder
facts. And I am one. Storms snarl flights
and labor. I, too, labor. Fight
to tell my story. Overnight
last week, I tried. Last week I tried
to make sense of numbers. My truck’s,
573992, gold-stuck
on her fender. Mine, on paychecks.
She, an object. She’s an object
I love. The ones who make money
plotted to replace her with one
that’s bigger. Clumsier. Their plan
twisted in lines. Twisted in lines
on maps—they’ve never seen my roads
that wind narrow among redwoods
and slopes. Late one night, as fog flowed
in dark, I slowed. In dark, I slowed
to let a car pass, its lights soft-
haloed. Blind in beauty, I stopped
close to the edge. The damp-blurred drop
among limbs, lost. Among limbs, lost
to lists, my truck held me safe. Sure.
The car slipped by, so close its mirror
whiskered my bumper. Disappeared
in mist. In fear. In mist, I fear
what might happen in another
truck, less nimble. Made for other
terrain. My center manager
chose to save her. Chose to save her
from the flatbed trailer assigned
to take her. 992 is mine
for now. The last of her design.

from Poets Respond
January 8, 2023


T.R. Poulson: “I am a union member, and I can relate to this article. Behind every business meltdown are workers who have tried to warn their companies what can happen when only short-term profits influence decisions. The form is a monotetra.”

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