Read Poem: 15 AN HOUR, by Collin Chute

you set your tray down
at the office cafeteria table
the one where the fluorescent light
is burned out above
for your spaghetti
is already, overdone

you bend down to sit,
but quickly spring up
and shuffle on to the vending machine

you need something lime green today
maybe highlighter blue
chalk full of caffeine,
and those sweet sweet chemicals,
to get you through the maze

you slide a dollar inside
the serpent’s slit
as it slithers it up,
and spits out your trash bill

too wrinkly
for a pallet this refined
you try to iron it,
with the palms of your hands
which read no fortune

as flush as you can get it
straight and narrow,
you feed it through
but this time it bites you

you let out a scream
only two or three heads turn
they already think you’re weird
you slip a 20 in there,
maybe that will open up a bitch

oh yeah
that’s doing it
come to da da

you can hear the belly of the beast
conjuring up a plastic vial
full of liquid fuel
cha ching!

you bend down to grab it,
and someone slaps your ass
you look around
for the clown

could have been Ted,
or Bill, or Jimmy,
maybe even Moe

definitely not Kathleen
damn
you really wish it was Kathleen

hey what the hell?
this is a regular cola
generic brand
no label on it
they removed it because of racism
or more like the fear of being racist
or more like money

where the hell is my god damn change?
what the fuck?
are you kidding me?
I gave this thing a 20

you start to press all the buttons
with your overgrown nails
to no avail
you pound on the fat with your fists
and give the machine a kick

you cuss this mother out
all the heads are tuned in now
it’s your show baby
let em’ have it

you got him on the ropes
he’ll be down for the count in no time

you climb on top
so you can put the man down

you feed him every day
but he never gives you what you need

you slam your fists
and try to pry off the top

you take your shirt off
and start to cry

your boss walks in
he picks up your spaghetti
he starts to eat it as he walks over to you
slowly you look up
ragu all over his jaw

whatcha doing up there buddy?

I’m trying to make sense of it all

well we can’t have that now

but it ate my 20 and gave me regular cola

your boss finishes your pasta
and thinks about something unrelated

he pulls out a cigarette
blows some smoke in your face

just staring at you

you look like a monkey up there
he says with a grin

that was my pasta

well you won’t be needing it. Bill…

Bill the janitor comes over and pulls out his gun
he drops it but it doesn’t go off
everyone laughs, even you,
you wipe a tear off your face

he picks it up and your boss,
pats him on the shoulder
put it where I like it

Bill chuckles
and shoots you between the eyes

ragu. everywhere.

just about everyone looks up
but no-one stops eating

your boss pulls out a key,
opens up the vending machine
and puts your $20 bill in his front pocket

About poetryfest

Submit your Poetry to the Festival. Three Options: 1) To post. 2) To have performed by an actor 3) To be made into a film.
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