She hoped some would leave,
rise above dirty factory gates
past plumes of smoke spewing
from the cement plant.
Occasionally when discussing
great American novels, the walls
shook. Ravines were blasted
for more rocks to crush into powder.
She wished they would not become
clerks for soul-less chain stores or
cooks in fast food joints where
smells of burning grease lingered.
What was the use of teaching literature
and poetry to these children who would
soon grow listless? Their spirits ground
down like stones in the quarry.
Sally thought everything was
up to luck and she had zero.
Her chances got swept
away with yesterday's trash.
Every day working in this
dumpy dinner slinging hash.
There were the regulars
who knew her name and
left good tips. They had
no place else to go.
Her feet swelled up at
the end of lunch rush.
Sally wiped tables filling
ketchup bottles, salt shakers,
sugar jars while staring out the
window at pulsing rain.
Waiting a half hour for the bus,
winds tangling her hair.
She stopped at the market to
bring a few groceries home.
Struggling now to open her door,
only cold rooms would greet her.
Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary zines such as Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze, Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Blueline, Halcyon Days and included in Bright Hills Press, Kind of A Hurricane Press and Poppy Road Review anthologies. She has been nominated four times for Best of the Net.