October 16, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

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James Coburn




Beside a Huge Parking Lot



In a big box store where managers train for intimidation

Associates zone in packs crossing aisles, arranging order

To be broken, by pecking order.

The chain is as strong as the nearest link to the counter

But the chain is pulled tighter with each link

Without turning back

Until the price is worn and gone for the newbies

Brought to streams of monotone products as distant

As the associate’s identity to a billionaire family

Insulated from lives going nowhere but down

The aisle of no living wage and “I don’t have time for you.”

There are no worker ants grinding their way in. Floors are hard

With restless feet of a bygone dream

Shifting boxes to a mass audience wanting something different,

That perfect something, from an unknown corner,

But now, this instant, is always the time.

Money walks through the same doors, greeted by the same

Stare in search of what lies beyond repetition of polluted

Cries to hurry up, for a drop in the bucket of a life

In quiet disillusion without time to make amends

To what they thought life would be,

Stranded as long as the boxes roll down the aisles

Without a thank you or empathy.

Workers are a commodity, a life to be robbed bare to the bone

By trained managers paid to belittle.

Schedules decided by computers so blame the system

And no one else gives thought, just unspoken, gone, ripped off

Of time and hope.

I think I’ll call it the plan.

“Don’t call it that because they have no plans. They have intentions,

But they have no plans.”






James Coburn

James Coburn is an Oklahoma poet. His first book of poetry “Words of Rain” was published in 2014. The book was a finalist for an Oklahoma Book Award. In 2016, ten of his poems against terrorism and to save the Sunderbans (wetlands) were published in “Onnyodhara” (The Alternative Way) Eid-special issue festival edition in association with “Anushilon” (The Culture & Literature Society) the National Literary Organization of Bangladesh. Coburn is a 2013 inductee of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame. He has been published in several anthologies. In 2018 two of his poems were published in Tuck, an international online political, human rights and arts magazine.

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