“Ode to the Store Clerk” by McKenzie Chinn

McKenzie Chinn


oh wage-slave savior
buzzing fluorescent light in the blackout
Jesus walked the earth pretty low-key too
a robe and sandals for a branded apron
and what wizardry
to build anything off $7.25
what saint-patience paving paths
from outskirt to epicenter and
what ugly twisted faces
you for years have served
demands born aloft on fancy
tuna fish breath       angel
stooped, the abuse
from which your holy body has healed again
and again, what valiance
in your perennial boredom!
oh you map! pointing a deaf nation
toward the proper aisle, direction
barely deserved and unheeded anyway
a pettier god would doff its apron and
curse us all, leave us to wander
such consumerist deserts, bursting at the seams
empty and unsustainable, middle class throngs
barefoot and parched, no floss
no potato chips, no soap
oh swollen-ankled, back-braced Moses
oh immaculate single Mother Mary of four
lighting your lantern
for a Forbes list couch cushion change
forgive us,
the unbelievers

unwitting warrior
we retreat and
you vanguard

we cower and
you continue

from Poets Respond
April 18, 2020


McKenzie Chinn: “This poem responds to continued developments around the current pandemic, as I imagine many poems do in this moment. It calls for greater support for the nation’s essential workers, particularly the irony around their being chronically undervalued and under-compensated.” (web)

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