An invitational text
pulls me from passed out
to greyed out apartment.
Friends are gathering tonight for trivia
if I am able to join.
They know I have work in a few hours
but still they make this radiant attempt at kindness;
they really want me to be part of the fun.
So do I
even as I turn the phone over
without typing a reply.
Numbers don’t lie.
For months now
I have consistently been
one of the top performing forklifts.
Nobody else has put in the effort
to learn the system like I have
to make it work to their advantage like I do.
I go into the hardest areas
and tame the monsters within.
Disastrous days ensue
those rare times I call off.
I follow every standard procedure:
pallets stacked by color,
no product on the floor,
and I remove every shred of plastic
holding the boxes together
so that selectors can pull orders
without a fight.
And most days I just wish
we would try to develop the other drivers
to help alleviate the stress
instead of giving me another task because
you’re the only one we trust to do this.
My karaoke skills have rusted out.
On a particularly adventurous Friday
I try taking the stage again
and what flowed from these rigid vocal cords
might have blown some eardrums.
Maybe it was the poor excuse of a catnap
I tried to squeeze in before turning up.
Maybe it was that jager bomb
exploding every reason for its existence
directly into my bloodstream.
Or maybe it was the simple fact
that I just don’t sing karaoke anymore.
Dating while working night shift
is particularly challenging.
My night-style used to be robust,
most days being out beyond twelve.
Now I just have Saturdays and occasional Fridays
if I get lucky enough with the sleep.
Rarely getting out means
it’s rarer to meet people.
Rarely meeting people
leaves you with only the people around
and the people you’re always around
are the people tgat you work with.
Of those people
one begins to stand out.
You know workplace relationships are awkward
but you can’t help yourself from falling.
She is pretty, she is kind,
her smile is my sunrise.
Except you still work night shift
while she comes in for the day.
You’re allowed one, maybe two chances
to try and have a conversation
because you both are too diligent to chat,
even if those moments feel like butterflies.
So one day you make your move,
an exchange of numbers to keep conversation going
then when she doesn’t text, it becomes clear
you won’t be anything more that workplace friends.
But you still see her every day.
Nothing shines in quite the same way.
There comes a point
when an initially unidentifiable something
invades the body or the mind,
spirit or the heart
and you undeniably know,
like a canary in the coalmines,
a fundamental change needs to be made
for your own wellbeing.
Sometimes that change
involves something you love.
I awake to an intrusive incandescencence
flooding my apartment on a Saturday morning.
The light stabs my eyes and vice grips my head.
I’m not ready to face
what I fear I’m starting to know
with crystal clarity
so I pull the covers over my head,
then on my phone
put in an order for blackout curtains.