Kannemeyer, poem pic

First Commute
by Derek Kannemeyer

That first job out of college. The one where you get your
head shoved through the window of how hard it is going

to be to be a grown-up. And you crane it, and you flex
it, to scour the joint for an exit, and all you see anywhere

is stuck. Commuter train into London. In your new cheap
suit. Here you are braving the mass change mob charge

across Stratford platform. To board and be barreled along
to Tower Bridge station; to sidewise through that slamdance

into city air. Four times a day you’ll cross this bridge, into your
office complex at Courage’s Brewery and labyrinthed out again:

clock in, clock out to lunch, back after lunch, until you flee
back home. Or your parents’ home, you will have to say now.

And in ten thousand tourist photographs, in ten thousand dusty
photo albums, there you shall be still, in your cheap taupe suit,

just a smidge of local color. As behind you Tower Bridge,
and the Tower itself, anchor the land in history and grey sky.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me in my last college apartment, 1971. Maybe two months from entering the workforce, the prospect of which made my eyes clench firmly shut.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’m not sure my high school and college era jobs count; they were without terror. Whereas with this first real one, it dawned on me I might have to devote my whole life to crap like this. In fact, I haven’t had to; I quit abruptly after three months and have done work since which I enjoyed. While this job, in the brewery’s accounts department, was deadly dull, what dismayed me were its conventions and its hierarchies. (The women, as a tiny example, got morning coffee breaks and the men beer breaks. With a recently imposed three pint limit—in 15 minutes! at 10 am!— because some guys had been abusing the free beer privilege.) The commute, as we rushed in our millions into the maw of such enterprises, felt less like a rat race than a brawl of lemmings.

Kannemeyer, bio pic

ABOUT THE AUTHOR : Derek Kannemeyer, originally from London by way of Cape Town, writes and teaches in Richmond, Virginia. He edited the 2016 Poetry Virginia Review (a contest anthology, available on Amazon), and his work has appeared in numerous online and print publications.