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TOM WAYMAN A CURSING POEM This poem wants to hurt another person. This poem wants another person to die. It wants him to suddenly stumble feel a sharp pain just under the belly a harsh pain, one that rips him so hard inside that he shits himself. The poem wants him to become dizzy feel a rush of sweat on the face to begin to shiver, and have to be helped into bed. The poem wants his teeth to chatter, wants him to throw up gasping for air, wants mucus to pour from his nose and mouth. It wants him to die in the night. This poem wants Gordon Shrum to die. First because despite all his company's rules and tariffs despite every regulation they tell the press they apply his company turned off the heat and light in the house. They did this without warning, when the temperature was forty degrees by day and the nights begin at four o'clock. So that after working all day, the body could come home to a room of black ice. So that after straining all day at the jobsite, with the fingers numb at the hammer and slipping under the weight of the heavy boards after the back was twisted trying to hoist the load of a wheelbarrow the rest of the body could return to darkness and cold. This poem also wants Gordon Shrum to die because his company charges twenty-five cents every day for the bus to carry you to work. And because you must pay the same every evening to wait in the cold to be jerked and stopped and jerked and stopped all the way back to the house. Fifty cents a day taken out of the dollars squeezed from the body's labor so at the end of the day, the body can be hauled to where it stays overnight 38 can enter the black bedrooms, be lit by a candle and eat bread and cold milk. Lastly the poem wants Gordon Shrum to die because at a meeting he reached over to my friend Mark Warrior and smacked him in the mouth. He was duly charged and duly acquitted because Mark was shouting out at the time how the French were finally getting off their knees and striking back at the bullies that push them, at the men like Shrum —whom Mark didn't name. But whom I name, with his bureaucrats and service divisions his credit office and transportation system. Him, and every other animal who is gnawing away at our lives. May before they die they know what it is like to be cold, may the cold eat into them may they live so they cough all night and can't sleep and have to get up the next morning for work just the same so they can have food and a fire. May the joints of their bodies swell with their labor and their backs ache. And before they die may they know deeply, to the inside of their stomachs the meaning of a single word : unemployment. May they understand it as the nourishment a man gets by scraping the calendar over a pan for a meal. May they have a future with nothing in it but unemployment: may they end on welfare. May they have to travel by bus to get their welfare. May they wake in the night and realize that for the rest of their lives they will never eat together all the things they love: steak and wine and hot corn. They will never have these things together again until they die. May they die on welfare. And may the Lord God Jesus have mercy on their souls. Amen. 39 ...


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