Two Poems – Jude Marr

Wages and Other Rewards

I have been waged as wars are
waged—for profit:
battling across a restaurant floor, plates
balanced, smile balanced:
making small talk with naked stroke
survivors as they stepped into the shower
on my arm:
scrubbing shit off toilets for city
planners: washing actors’ dance belts
by hand—

I have been salaried, valued as salt
is valued, but not
by ancient Rome: I have curated
books and students: battled legions
of administrators: built systems
within oppressive systems: all
the while believing I could change
the world with a flick of my salted

I have freelanced through un-proofed
pages, dreaming of accounts paid
on time: I have staggered
from stipend to stipend: I have taken
checks to the bank and reached
under tables for cash: I have never
been able to save enough to ensure
a good death—

I have kept faith though, and myself
fed: and I have these lines, and others
more complex.

Fashionistas at the End of Their Commute

at their address, rusted bats fly from every closet: bags
drop from slanted shelves: plastic shoes are parked
in parallel

at their address, borrowed shopping carts stand
in line, piled with plaid and yarn: army blankets
are for alley nights: yellowed linen smells like cat: darkness
distills under eaves

at their address, flowered hats and underwear hang
from kitchen clothesline: dark sacks keep winter
sweaters safe: a single, shaded lamp barely illuminates

at their address, surplus pills pile up in pockets: wire hangers
bend into creature shapes: bodies escape
from cages: at their address, winding sheets
are window shades. 

Jude Marr (they, them) is a Pushcart-nominated nonbinary poet. Jude’s full-length collection, We Know Each Other By Our Wounds, came out from Animal Heart Press in 2020 and they also have a chapbook, Breakfast for the Birds, published by Finishing Line Press in 2017. Their work has appeared in many journals in the US, the UK, and beyond. A native Scot, Jude recently returned to live in the UK after 10 years of teaching, writing, and learning in the US. The transatlantic connection remains strong, however: Jude will be a Poet in Pajamas for Sundress Press in June 2022.  Twitter: @JudeMarr

Banner Art: Hand, a digital image by Robert Frede Kenter (c) (2022). Twitter: @frede_kenter

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