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poetry He Was a Worker

For Labor Day week, Seattle poet Alex Gallo-Brown reminds us that unpleasant bosses often receive their just rewards without knowing why.

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He Was a Worker

By ALEX GALLO-BROWN

My uncle was a worker
who would have preferred not to work

at the university he had a boss
who lorded over his life’s time

the time he had to be at work
was so banal a demand it went unnoticed

to have mentioned it would have
violated our country’s code

at the university he collected the seeds
he found during his time on the grounds

(blackberries are an invasive species
in the part of the country where I am from)

(when your dog falls down a ravine full of blackberries
you brave the prickers to make sure he is safe)

my uncle made sure that his boss’s house was plentiful
with the thorns those seeds would become

(to deploy violence in response to violence
is a language most workers

would prefer not to learn)

 Alex Gallo-Brown is the author of The Language of Griefa collection of poems, and Variations of Labor, a collection of poems and stories forthcoming from Chin Music Press. He lives in Seattle with his wife and daughter, where he works as a union organizer.