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Thomas Hardy Works At Texaco

As fate would always have it, in you come
Just as the muse Euterpe starts to hum.
To count ten beats (and to control my rage)
My disbelieving digits drum the page.
She always forms the same embarrassed grin
As if apologizing for a sin,
As well she ought: For poems on the rise.
Don't cotton to this kind of short surprise--
(But then, "The customer is always right;"
Let them use and insult you every night,
So you can fatten someone else's purse
Who treats you just as badly, paying worse).
Reciting lines too often used before--
"Good evening, ma'am: What can I do you for?"
I find out that it's not her time of week
To fill: "I think my tire has a leak.
Could you please check it?" I don't need a gauge
To see the damned thing's lower than my wage.
Sure, I could tell you that your tire's low--
However, I'd prefer you didn't know,
'Cause serendipity's the thing, my dear,
That keeps our clockwork lives from getting drear.
The eager, handsome swain who helps you out,
May prove to be the one that you no doubt
Consider Mr. Right (Gee, that sounds fine!
Besides, my muse is on the other line).
My fatalism's not her cup of tea,
However; neither is my poetry.
I'm at a loss to know what she expects of me.
Regrettably, most people's attitude
Is we're beneath respect or gratitude.
I serve. That doesn't mean I shouldn't get
The same amenities you'd give your pet.
But they despise us all, the ones who tend
To gaping needs on which our lives depend.
It doesn't really matter much what sells,
High octane gas or octasyllables.
And while they silently consume our flame,
The dead mistake the thunder for acclaim.

Robert Crawford


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