The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®

 

Guinotte Wise

Going Postal

(For CB)

 

Back before the term "going postal" came

and went, making way for school shootings

and bombs in crowded places, before the

world went batshit crazy, I'm talking here,

the Post Office delivered twice a day during

the holidays, those days leading up to what

was known as Christmas and New Year's

and the world was swathed in white soon

dirty, but covered again and again and I

was a temp for the Post Office, delivering

mail on a route near Wornall Road from

50th to 63rd streets. I walked it with the

usual postman and the dogs that followed

him followed me as well though it threw

them off their routine. He said, they know

it's Christmas mail, they just like to act

that way awhile like kids you know; they

like the holidays, and they're good dogs

mostly. One or two won't trust you right

away, but they'll catch on.

 

I trudged the snowy route, the mail was

mostly cards and circulars, but all got

preferential treatment then, all were duly

thrust in boxes, doorway slots, and dogs

who didn't like the postman were kept

indoors. The dogs who followed, took

turns, dropped off after several blocks

and another dog or two would take up

the march. I looked forward to them,

learned their names from the main mail

man. They made the bag a little lighter.

 

Years later I worked at the main post

office, the mausoleum in mid town, no

dogs there to grace the day, and saw

first hand why some postal workers

became warriors without any banner

save that of "why?" or "how?" and

riddled places with indiscriminate

bullet spray, the noise itself a balm

that was release enough to remember

inside prison walls, but ancient queries

never answered. As I sorted mail in a

prison-like room I noticed slots in walls

around us, asked a nearby sorter, who

told me that's where they watch us

from, to see if we take a break we

shouldn't or if we open the mail for

checks or cash, you get to know the

mail that has them. But he talked

without moving his lips or looking

at me. I volunteered for dock work

unloading mail trucks, throwing the

canvas bags of mail, harder work

but no one watched, and one could

stop to wipe a brow, light a smoke

as trucks jockeyed in the sunlight

could use a friendly dog or two and

the job would be all right not as if

I was going to do this work for life

but the money's better than poetry.

 

 

 

GUINOTTE WISE lives on a farm in Resume Speed, Kansas. His first short story collection (Night Train, Cold Beer) won the Palmer Hall Award and publication by a university press. Three more books since, the latest, a book of poetry, Scattered Cranes, published in 2017. His wife has an honest job in the city and drives 100 miles a day to keep it. His website is http://www.wisesculpture.com

 

 

Previous | Next