penha
Swingline
by James Penha

The stapler empty
for weeks. Whenever
I try to staple its
emptiness
reminds me;
I use tape
or paper clips
although the red box
of once 5000
Standard Staples SF-1 for
Swingline and standard
office staplers sits
within my reach.
An old school primer cursive
SWINGLINE
sweeps across the box.
Not handsome,
but the logo looks
familiar, the brand
so sure
and fine.

I reach.
Maybe only 800 fixed now
(How? I never asked him.)
together
in staple trains
wrecked
at the box’s bottom
not sleekly compartmentalized
as they left
Long Island City
where my father worked to make them.

The company purchaser he was
polled by Gallup
for economic outlooks of steel and cardboard,
of soap and electric,
telephones and toilet paper
and all
staples for staples
and staplers.

CAPTION: The photograph of his father looks over the shoulder of the poet and, on the desk before him, the last box of staples given to his son.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and in poetry. His essay“It’s Been a Long Time Coming” was featured inThe New York Times “Modern Love” column in April 2016. He edits TheNewVerse.News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Visit him on Twitter @JamesPenha.