Mon, 02 Dec 2002

He is the stockboy that gathers the carts
In the parking lot, left here and there
By customers shopping for artichoke hearts
And products for styling their hair.

He is the peon who pushes a train
Of stray shopping carts to the door,
As bolts of sheer apathy shoot from his brain
And harmlessly bounce off the store.

He is the poor humble cretin who treks
Across this uneven expanse
Of wind-blasted asphalt, while brushing the specks
Of shopping-cart grease from his pants.

Yet he, though he be lowly, mean, and servile,
In trousers not recently pressed,
Was once just a stockboy at work in the aisle,
No different from all of the rest.

Perhaps you have seen him at work, on his knees,
His pride, more or less, still in place,
Hunched over a crate of Cheez Whiz processed cheese,
A slightly pained look on his face.

“But where is that slightly pained look now?” you ask,
As he trundles a stray cart inside,
No clues on his face, an expressionless mask.
“What happened,” you think, “to his pride?”

Don’t worry; although much diminished it be,
He still keeps it near to his heart;
His pride sits upright, like a small child of three,
In the basket of that shopping cart.

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