h u g h    b e h m - s t e i n b e r g

 

Looking for Work

Animals, When We're Not Looking




















Looking for Work

 

Will we become gardeners? How much do they pay gardeners? They can make the stars laugh. It isnít enough. Eat a tomato. The same air, the same job, the same food. Lots of coffee cups, not enough gin. Too much fertilizer. Do I look like Iím made out of money? I am continental but this is not a continent, this is barely a house. Not a noun, a fear. A paying job, that is, it could be another nail through your foot.  Pin you down like a serf.  The price of shoes.

 

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Animals, When We're Not Looking

 

Alligators rack up debts on their credit cards. Bury shoes and luggage with full honors. Pigeons display their work in galleries. Sell their studios to young vice-presidents and retire as millionaires. Wolves stowaway on oil tankers. Devour unsuspecting crew. Take their places at sea and at port. Or your pets laugh at you when youíre looking right at them. Entire branches of government are in fact the dens of animals, burrowed deeper and deeper into the impossibly fertile earth, where you will work for them.  Where you are working for them right now.  Worms write grants off of you to improve farming conditions, but when they deliver all of the paperwork, green-eyed starlings reach down and declare it is a promise from God that we will never have to stop when we stop (God is loud. God turns right all at once).

 

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HUGH BEHM-STEINBERG's poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from such places as Crowd, VeRT, Volt, Spork, Cue, Slope, Aught, Swerve, Fence and Zeek, as well as other, more multisyllabic places. He teaches in the graduate writing program at California College of the Arts, and his book Shy Green Fields is forthcoming from No Tell Books in Fall, 2007.