by Jeff Santosuosso

For all the times I left this place
after hours
I never turned off the lights,
last to leave.
That was for the cleaning crew
who worked so late
I sometimes wondered if the place ever went

It is now,
now that I’ve flipped the switch.

The boys in blue have arrived,
crew cuts, cut offs, and work boots,
heavy gloves, back braces and dollies
to cart it all away.

Across a parking lot filled with portable containers,
spray painted stencil lettering in transport code
like some Braille tattoo cuneiform
on a Rosetta Stone Rubik’s Cube. Grey.
On a high-speed train these stencils
might look like pebbles in a stream,
clouds passing a time-lapse day in seconds.
But here, they are squared.

This lot is not for us pedestrians,
for we are live and mobile.
But here, I have found stasis.
The boxes coax no entry. They lie.
Hulking huge boxes with rivets, latches and clasps
forged and flattened by Vulcan himself.
Nearly headstones, grey on grey,
lifeless ash lot compacted at my feet,
offering nothing to the boxes except rest.
Through this maze,
I risk injury of body, feel injury of mind.
These temple guards at hell,
preventing exit,
just as I cross, turning my back,
the widest gangplank I’ve imagined,
the lowest gallows.
When I cross over, part of me will have died.

I leave those vaults behind.

IMAGE: “Standing Around While We All Are Sinking” by Roger Brown (1977).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The move is based on having worked for a successful division of a large company. Despite our success, we were divested and given the choice to move hundreds of miles away. While in the long run, it was not a bad event, it was quite stressful to uproot our family. We had a six-year-old at the time. Plus, we couldn’t help feeling a bit “discarded.” During the “pre-divestiture” period, we worked for six months with those who worked in the same building but not the same division. They suffered survivor guilt. Meanwhile, we were subtly and inadvertently treated like castoffs. During the move itself, the parking lot was filled with these huge containers that resembled railway cars. I’ll never forget the site of them, nor the feeling of walking around them curiously, even though they were placed in a remote edge of the lot.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeff Santosuosso is a business consultant and poet living in Pensacola, Florida. A member of the Florida State Poets Society, he is co-editor of panoplyzine.com, an online journal dedicated to poetry and short prose. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in San Pedro River Review, Red Fez, Stories of Music (coming, autumn, 2016), Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, Texas Poetry Calendar, Avocet, First Literary Review–East, and other online and print publications. You can find him on Facebook.