The Winter of Office Supplies by Jason Baldinger

The toll of few rough months totaled
while carrying a couch into a new apartment.
I hate to stop this but I have to take the call
I ask the guy on the other arm take break
dig the phone outta my pocket, bark an unfriendly hello
I take a seat, half a couch on my lap

After five years together I decided to leave, mid-November
another argument escalating, she’d taken to throwing punches
I blocked, ducked or let her hit my chest
they weren’t aimed with intent but they were aimed
I’d wait ‘til she got tired, hold her till she collapsed, neither with much to say
I knew her rage, I knew what renewed it
I knew it wasn’t me, but in these moments I wasn’t sure she saw my face
I tried to get through with her but now I knew I had nothing left
I wasn’t helping, I had spent my patience

Making arrangements to sign a lease
she calls, pleads with dinner date apologies
these dinners too frequent
we talk, try and work through, really it’s the same story
eventually I agree to stay

Then a New Year appeared and I lost my job
I spent January on break
February looking for work
with March came illness
no insurance, no doctor, a litany of interviews
eventually smuggled antibiotics
stolen, sort of, from a vet hospital
at least they weren’t beef chewable

Then she asked me to leave
when she said it, there was nothing to discuss
nothing to argue, I could stay until I found an apartment or a job

The next month’s lost, trying to stay out of the house
fielding angry phone calls while I avoid the shit and psychic debris
that comes at the end of a relationship

Her endless suspicion as I spent long nights
with friends who tried to make sure I was ok
she would call, I’d talk her down
I couldn’t refuse, I needed a place to live

Finally Memorial Day
The Holy Grail, six interviews one day
I rushed them, pulling charm from deep
my mother scouted apartments
you’re in trouble when short of thirty
your mother is looking for apartments for you
I took one that the landlord didn’t check references
called an old district manager, someone to lie for me
convinced the landlord to pay security deposits late
it all leads here

Six potential jobs, listed one through six
in my head, here I am, couch on my lap
a phone call from choice six
who isn’t offended as I bark an unfriendly hello
rasp and sweat into the phone as he offers me a job
I accept, hope to hell another company calls instead
they don’t
the winter of office supplies had begun

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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