This Is What Work Is

By Peycho Kanev

I have to get up every morning at five to

wash my face and drink my coffee black as

the last pieces of the passing night.

The first cigarette of the day feels exactly like

the glow of a miniature sun shrouded in

clouds and promises of drudgery and laughter.

Outside, the street lights flicker and bite

the wetness of the milky white morning fog.

Gloves, a hammer, screwdrivers, pliers and

a map of the city in the backpack on my back,

just like a turtle, prepared to face the new day

and tens of thousands more to come.

The streets are still dusky, the sky above

stretches like a sickle, preparing to let through

the first rays of the sun and loud morning

air envelops the plain trees and the bushes.

And there is the bridge connecting the land

to eternity, where the punch clocks are useless

and all supervisors burn in hell like fish in

a frying pan and we do nothing all day long.

In the distance I see the enormous gray building

full of green trucks and this is the place where

I go everyday from 8 to 6, this is my purgatory

and yes, I have my Ortiz, my Mexican Vergil;

together we descent in the intestines of the city,

full of sweat and agony and dead dreams.

At the end of the day when the city is covered

in darkness and fatigue has settled in our bodies

like a parasite, we get into our old cars and

go home, where I open a bottle of beer and

I try to remember who I am and what I’m doing

in this place, surrounded by silence and books.

And the life stood still, death came to take

my measurements but then life continued slowly

and I thought: It could’ve been worse. I could’ve

been MFA student, studying creative writing.

Ah, at last, the first laughter for the day. Better

late than never.