Archives for posts with tag: post office

usps face mask

My Postal Lady
by Michelle Kogan

My postal lady stands at attention–
Warden style, pensive and alert–
Garbed in one of her multiple-well-fitted masks,
behind interweaving layers of
which guard her, and are
only interrupted at intervals
for human hands to pass packages
into her quasi-protected lair.
Although from our social-distant spot
she may appear unapproachable—
Don’t be fooled,
if you wait your turn
you may be surprised . . .
Watch her as she dutifully
intercepts and directs all
our precious pieces of mail.

She will, JUMP—
Though will never draw blood.
She did with me,
after handing me my
International mail form,
for my poetry package
off to another poet friend
in Australia.
Gruffly she said,
mail from our country sits for weeks
after arriving in another country . . .
I asked, “Can I come to the front
after filling out my form?”
—“NO—Get back in line,”
I did, and filled out my form,
while waiting with others,
six feet between us,
with more waiting,
and more waiting

it was my turn,
I moved forward—
She prompted me with mail questions,
continuing with full cognition,
I stumbled with my credit card,
apologizing with, I’m rarely out
and out of practice.
“I’m teaching online,” I said,
“and the post office is
one of the few places I frequent.”
“You’re teaching online,” she asked.
“How’s that going?”
Her daughter came into our conversation,
A missed cruise they were supposed to take—
“How is she,” I asked.
“Fine, covered from head to toe in protective gear,
like an amazon warrior ready for battle.”
We laughed together,
She lingered in conversation—
Always attentive to her task—
“How are you,” I asked.
She chuckled and
shared her daily ritual
after returning from work.
Voiding all worn—
Selecting a new mask for tomorrow—
She’s received many masks from postal patrons,
and feels it’s only right to wear them.
Finally, she unwinds
with watching something.
Briefly we shared our universe . . .
We parted with thanks, and smiles.

Till next time—
My postal lady—
Dear postal lady
Be safe.

Till next time

A Chicago artist always writing poetry!

PHOTO: Post Office face mask by MadeBeyoutiful, available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I draw, paint, and write stories and an unending output of poems. This flow began about 10 years ago with haikus—I’d write while on walks—and has grown over the years in amount, forms, and desire. I also started following a handful of poetry blogs, reading more poetry, and attending poetry workshops at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago. I love the challenge and focus of poem prompts—to me they’re a puzzle waiting to be solved. A prompt is an invitation to write on something I may not have written on; it may bring ah-ha moments and spur on other ideas. I’ve always loved words. When I was very young I would underline and write down words I didn’t know so I could look them up. The magic came in the dictionary—there were rivers and rivers of words, and I went down many rabbit holes when looking for just a few definitions. And then there were pictures too, and I planned on studying art. I have these two equally powerful passions, writing and art—I have to do both, it’s like breathing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Kogan, a poet, writer, artist, and instructor, balances her writing and art with nature, critters, and calls from humanity, emerging from her Chicago roots and beyond. Her poems are in a handful of poetry anthologies, including The Best of Today’s Little Ditty Volume I, II, and III, and Imperfect: poems about mistakes: an anthology for middle schoolers. Her artwork is in the collection of The University of Illinois Chicago, Biological Sciences Department; the Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago, Illinois; private collections, the book Chicago Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness; and many catalogues. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Find out more at her website:; her blog:, and her Etsy Shop:

In Service to the People
by Mary Camarillo

After my grandfathers served in WWI, they took the Railway Post Office (RPO) exam. RPO clerks were considered postal service elites at the time. They were a close-knit group. That’s how my parents met—their fathers worked together.

The RPO manual required clerks to “possess more than ordinary intelligence, have a retentive memory and be sound in wind and limb.” My grandfathers knew all the rail junctions, the specific local delivery details and were able to ready a 50-pound mail pouch, stand in an open doorway just before the train passed the station at 70 miles per hour, grab the incoming pouch off a crane, and kick the outbound pouch off to the ground (and hopefully not underneath the train wheels).

My father rode with my grandfather on a few trips and decided he did not want to work for the post office. I wasn’t expecting to either, but when a friend took the exam, I tagged along. When I got hired, I planned to work a few months, save some money, and quit. I stayed for many reasons—five weeks’ vacation, 10 paid holidays, health benefits, the retirement package–but mostly because of the camaraderie of a close-knit group of people working towards a common goal.

Postal employees (my grandfathers, Charles Bukowski, John Prine, my husband, countless friends) miss Christmas celebrations, get bitten by dogs, and lose sleep working graveyard because they are committed to getting the mail out despite snow, rain, heat and now Covid-19, and a new postmaster general intent on cutting service.

The Postal Service mission is to “bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people.” The RPO handbook called this responsibility “a sacred duty.” I can think of nothing more sacred than binding our nation together in these fractured times.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Postal Service is in my DNA. I had a long career with the service, and I find the recent changes in service standards alarming. There is a longer version of this essay on my website.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: These are photographs of my grandfathers, who were both Railway Post Office clerks. Their names are Hubert Adrian Parker (right) and McDonald Wilson Brice (left), both deceased.

Camarillo Photo3 headshot

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Camarillo’s first novel will be published by She Writes Press in June of 2021. She is currently working on a novel told in linked stories. Her prose and poetry have appeared in publications such as The Sonoran Review, Lunch Ticket, and The Ear. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband who plays ukulele and their terrorist cat Riley who has his own Instagram account @marycamel13. Visit her at to read more of her work.

Author’s photo taken at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony.

             Patron Saint of Postal Workers
by Marjorie Maddox

Behold, I bring you tidings
of new stamps, of short-haired
schnauzers with sharp teeth,
forecasts of sleet, extra city blocks,
rain the size of Dobermans to dog-and-cat down.
And you will All-Hail the hail of Hades,
snow will suction your Slim-Fast hips,
humidity will hug your lips
till you swallow its hunger.

But lo, I am with you alway
with good digestion and balance,
parkas equipped for the fickleness
of weather, light sweaters for global warming,
blessings against shin splints and blisters.
And you will have long memory
for zip codes, broad smiles for strangers,
birth announcements and love letters in your arms.
O, messenger of mercy and joy,
even unto the end
of your blessed earthly career.

Previously published in Christianity and Literature.

IMAGE: Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation by Fra Angelico.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Raised in the Protestant tradition, I grew up knowing very little about the Catholic saints. As I became more and more liturgical, I was both surprised and intrigued to learn there was a patron saint for just about everyone: hairdressers, pawn shop owners, funeral directors, baseball fans—the list seemed endless. Eventually my interest and research turned into a long series of poems, which became a section of my book Weeknights at the Cathedral .  “Gabriel: Patron Saint of Postal Workers” is part of that collection. Little did we know that “pandemics” would be added to “snow, sleet, and hail” as hurdles.

Marjorie Maddox 2019 author photo with TTT jpg copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Winner of America Magazine’s 2019 Foley Poetry Prize and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist); Local News from Someplace Else; Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite Press); four children’s and YA books—including  Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Readiing Poems with Insider Exercises (Finalist Children’s Educational Category 2020 International Book Awards), A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry ; Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems; and I’m Feeling Blue, Too!, Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); Presence (assistant editor); and 600+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. Her book Begin with a Question is forthcoming from Paraclete Press in 2021. Visit her at and on Twitter


In the morning it was morning and I was still alive.
Maybe I’ll write a novel, I thought.
And then I did.

Last Lines from Post Office (1971) by CHARLES BUKOWSKI


In the morning it was morning and I was still alive.
Maybe I’ll write a novel, I thought.
And then I did.

Last Lines from Post Office (1971) by CHARLES BUKOWSKI

During the Charles Bukowski’s Los Angeles Esotouric tour on July 13th (see this post), the participants heard from fellow passenger Tim Youd — a performance artist who told us about his upcoming “regional conceptualism” event: Charles Bukowski’s Post Office performance (starting July 17th in downtown Los Angeles).


WHAT TO EXPECT: Tim Youd will perform the entirety of Charles Bukowski‘s 1971 novel Post Office on an Underwood Champion typewriter in the parking lot of the Terminal Annex Post Office where Bukowski sorted mail for fourteen years.  The final day of the performance will coincide with the 2013 edition of Perform Chinatown.  For that, Youd will relocate to the Coagula Curatorial gallery in Chinatown to finish the performance.

To commemorate the performance, the Coagula Curatorial gallery has created a limited edition print of Youd’s self-portrait that depicts him reading Bukowski’s Post Office. During the performances, there will be two ways to acquire a limited edition print — via a Bukowski trivia raffle or by showing the artist a Bukowski tattoo.

WHAT: Tim Youd performs Charles Bukowski‘s Post Office on an Underwood Champion typewriter

WHERE: Terminal Annex Post Office, 900 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

WHEN: Wednesday, July 17th – Saturday, July 27th, 2013

TIME: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. each day

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Fresh from his critically acclaimed typing performance of Henry Miller‘s Tropic of Capricorn at both the Pulse Art Fair and on the Brooklyn sidewalk outside of Miller’s boyhood home, Tim Youd is continuing his page-turning performances all over the country.  Dubbed “regional conceptualism,” Youd performs the works in locales geographically related to either the author’s life or the plot of the novel.  Utilizing the same make and model typewriter used by the author in its original creation, Youd types the novel on a single page run through the machine over and over.  With each exhibition, Youd also constructs a tangible visual companion piece to marry with every performance, consisting of his sculpted typewriter “portraits” as well as a self-portrait of himself reading the performed works. Upcoming performances will feature the work of Kurt Vonnegut (Indianapolis), Philip K. Dick (Santa Ana, California), and Henry Miller (Paris). 

At the post office a few days ago, I asked the clerk for a stamp appropriate for a sympathy card. She offered me this:


While I’m a fan of both Joe DiMaggio and baseball, I had to refuse this choice.

Again, I asked the clerk for an appropriate stamp for a sympathy card. Here was her next choice:


Did this woman not understand the meaning of “sympathy”?

Despite the long line of hot, disgruntled people behind me, I asked to look through her battered notebook of stamps. She said she had to show me the stamps. Again, I asked for a stamp for a sympathy card — this time amending the statement to include, “You know, for someone who has died.” I think this was a poor choice of words. Did the woman think I intended to send the card to the deceased? That was a long, long way for the card to travel, with postage much higher than an insured box of Christmas gifts sent to Japan.

Feeling the impatience of the people waiting behind me, I said, “Just give me a flag stamp.” The woman shook her head, telling me I’d have to buy a minimum of 20, which I didn’t have enough money to purchase. Finally, in exasperation, she said: “Just let me meter it.”

I couldn’t believe the coldness of this woman — a sympathy card with a metered strip for postage? Talk about bad taste. When I told her no, I had to have a “real” stamp, she turned to a page with this stamp:


The butterfly stamp was, of course, the perfect choice for a sympathy card. Out of curiosity (not cheapness), I asked why the stamp cost 65 cents (did some of the proceeds go to butterfly conservation?), and the woman told me she didn’t know. Anyway, I bought the stamp, put it on the sympathy card, and mailed it. The butterfly is a symbol of the psyche, of metamorphosis, of reincarnation. I send my good thoughts and good wishes to you, Judy, across the universe.