Why I Can’t Hold a Job, a noir poem by Dexter Dudgeon


I used to work at a Post Office
Not an average Post Office
Where we sold stamps
And shipped packages
We did that good stuff
But we didn’t have any of our own services
It was just a hodge-podge of
And some Russian wheelin-dealin
And we would go pick up
Packages from around the area
But if you had a juicy one
My boss would sink his
Teeth in it
So they sent me to Long Island
To help a rich couple move
We get there late at night
And the boss leaves me
To do the heavy lifting
And he’ll come to pick up
The payment in the morning


And I start moving tables, sofas, couches,
“Hold on there”
Says the woman of the house
“There’s no rush”
She gives me a glass of cold water
“What you rushing for?”
I sit on a lonely foot stool
“There’s too much going on nowadays”
I slowly sip my glass of refreshing water
“People lose focus too easily”
She gazes off into the distance and sighs
“Don’t you think”
(pause) this makes me smile
“My husband is out all over, busy all the time”
She move her hair back
“I don’t blame him but I see too little of him”
I sat there listening to her talk
Throughout the night I fill a truck with
Two widescreen TVs
A refrigerator, air conditioners
A whole truckload
A house load
“Relax a little, you stress too much”
“It’s my job,” I say
She tells me her worries
She asks me how old I am
“Twenty.” I think a little
“Going to be twenty-one soon.”
She smokes a cigarette as she
Watches her house empty out


Morning comes and the man
of the house arrives
“Now see here” he says
“This briefcase”
Is worth more than your house”
I see it sitting in a corner
“So be careful”
He looks at me as he tilts his sunglasses
So I haul his heavy but extra-special
Briefcase down a flight of stairs
Leading from his house
To the front gate
Where the moving truck is parked.
As I move down the steps
I see my boss pull up
He enters through the side door
Completely ignoring me
I get to the bottom of the stairs
I sit down
My boss and the man of the house
Are standing at the top of the steps
Both with fixed smiles on their faces
I didn’t notice them there till now
“Hey no slacking” says the man
Of the house
I bite my lip
“Yeah Dexter, get it together”
Says my boss
As they walk inside
I lift an eyebrow
And chuck the briefcase
Hard into the side
of the moving van
It makes a CRASH
The man of the house catches
A glimpse of his briefcase
Rotating through the air
And bangs on the door
Once, twice
He bangs it so hard the wood
Around the hand begins
To crack
“I’m going to kill that kid!
I’m going to murder him!”
My boss, suddenly rattled,
Regains his composure
“Listen,” he says. “All we’ll do is
Ship him to Australia.”
“What!” the man of the house
Wants answers
“We send him to the Aborigines
So they can eat him. It’s happened
Before. We’ll handle everything.
We’re a dependable service.”

About the Author
Dexter Dudgeon is a poet and linguist. He lives in New York City.

Leave a Reply