Pints on Penn by Jason Baldinger

watching the snow
from the second floor
a bar, a reading, Christmas presents
in the window, strings of lights above the frame

today it was confirmed
I knew it was coming
laid off in a few weeks
this is the second, maybe the third
year in a row that I’m rolling the same scenario
I’m tired

I think over unemployment past
it seems to come with the winter
it seems now to come more frequently

2000 was high on the hog
working twenty hours, funemployment
if you will. I was making more money
than I’d ever made, I guess that was
the good old days now

05 was a fucking mess
no part time jobs, benefits had been cut
you did your best to stretch and pay
the rent while living out of bars

12 was running full speed
a season on the road milking
a severance package, figuring
it would all come together
it never did

14 it was grilled cheese
twice a day, an indian buffet
for a treat, a box of wine a week
and an unfinished novel
four people living in a one
bedroom apartment

Last year it was living off
a princely sum for selling off
a nice jazz collection
last year it was losing my mind
my moorings, there was no way to sit still

today john glenn died, rather than
wonder what’s next, I think about
past america’s, the one trump
wants to resurrect, the one you can’t
resurrect. there seems to have
been a future once, we looked at stars
other worlds, even the working
class had optimism, each generation
building off the last. those dreams
now seem so far away

Consider my mother still working
two jobs at 62, she raised me on social
security after my dad died, she put
herself through school at the same time
if that was an option now, it won’t be anymore
she deserves better, we all do

Still I wonder what happened to those dreams
if anyone still dreams them
a Edward Bellamy world
A Eugene Debs world
a new deal world
a new frontier world
instead we get nightmares
instead we get the dawn of 1984

Jason Baldinger
Jason Baldinger has spent a life in odd jobs, if only poetry was the strangest of them he’d have far less to talk about. He’s traveled the country and written a few books, the latest of which are The Lower 48 (Six Gallery Press) and The Studs Terkel Blues (Night Ballet Press). A short litany of publishing credits include Blast Furnace, The Glassblock, Lilliput Review, Green Panda Press, Pittsburgh Poetry Review and Fuck Art, Let’s Dance. You can hear audio versions of some poems on Bandcamp, just type in his name.

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