Fiction, Poetry and Havering

April Poem-a-Day — April 25, 2014

Friday, April 25th, 2014

For today’s prompt, write a “last straw” poem.



The Last Straw


“I quit!”

I spun away from tiny sink

corner of back room,

hand dripping water,

hand dripping blood,

grabbed my purse and stomped—

blood drops, apron and anger—

out through the deli

to joblessness.


I should have quit the day before,

but there was rent to pay and food to buy,

so I stayed past the obvious time.


Power cord to meat slicer

came out of its receptacle,

220-volt power outlet.

Grab the plug,

push it in








and my involuntary scream.


I didn’t feel the pain at first.

The back of my hand turned black.

No plug in my hand, no plug anywhere,

evaporated from the end of its cord.


When the pain slammed me

I wanted ice. I had none.

A customer walked in:

I sent her next door—

She returned with bar ice

carried in clean rag

to wrap my hand.

Mercy I’ll never forget.


I called my boss

at the number he gave me

all afternoon,

letting it ring once

as forcefully instructed,

then hanging up.

After hours of no reply,

I dialed and let it ring on.

An elderly woman answered,

voice frightened.

I’d been harassing her

in my innocence.

Using a phone book,

I found digits reversed,

dialed the right number

and hung up.


I wish it ended there.

I wish I walked out,

never answered his call,

left the place open to pillagers.


He called. He came.

He blamed me for

outlet faulty before I started,

cord stretched too far for years,

having to call in electrician.

He gave no thanks for

food moved from freezer to freezer,

from cold case to cold case

(all one-handed)

to save his precious merchandise;

nor even for staying despite my burns.

Didn’t even offer a ride

or medical assistance.


And I went back to work next day.

That is where my blame lies.


Lunchtime rush,

right hand bandaged,

making sandwiches.

Yank down plastic wrap,

hand hits cutter strip,

slices neatly as Saran

across the back.

Wrap hand in apron,

sandwich in plastic,

then hurry to back room

where he sits, eating.


As I start to wash, he says,

“You’re the clumsiest person I ever met.”


Then I quit.


Gammelor Goodenow



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