Dead End Job





The garbage collector leans out the side of the truck
to take a picture of a rainbow arched over a construction site

Yellow lichen on the vaulted roof
brighter than the paint below of the corner store

The cop fixes her blond bun in the reflection of the pizzeria window
mockingly to make the other cops laugh

Overnight the wind detached framed pictures I never noticed
at the top of the farm’s washing station
I find the broken glass and spend
all morning sweeping the irregular triangles

The neighbor comes asking if I’ve seen her cat Jerrold
as she often does, and though I haven’t seen him today
she has found him every day before

The man does donuts in the traffic intersection adding suspension
until, without collision, he speeds off

Months ago, as I counted 13 bundles of nasturtium
to pad the produce boxes, an egret flew overhead
and so my boss had something sly to say
about her mother’s premonition and my future

Years ago, every Tuesday, I picked up donated beer grain
in the food bank dump truck
I wanted to answer anyone who asked how I was
with the process, attaching
the crane hooks to the lip of the barrel
The impulse is gone, and someday the impulse
to remember the egret will be too





Claire Meuschke is the author of Upend (Noemi Press 2020). She is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and works at an urban farm in Oakland, CA.