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Go-Karts, Bumper Boats, Munchkins, and Such:

Working the Close…


Shift begins,

In the midst of the sun,

Dragonflies hovering

Over the opaque gasoline lagoon…

A breeding ground

(Despite the .01% water content

of that cess)

For mosquitoes, which are pests

And a magnet

(Despite the heat)

For small children, which are pests.


And the running…

Up the track,

Over the track,

To the boats,

To kiss the toes

Of the anal-retentive manager

All while bathed

In your own sweat

And immersed

In the sun,

Which once provided a tan

But is now only a pest.


Then, aah, comes the night.

Yes, night, with its

Incandescent glare

And its only-slightly-lesser boil.

It is bed-time for the munchkins.

The small children dwindle in the twilight

And the Lollipop Guild is replaced

By teenage thrill-seekers, which are pests.


So they drive in circles

And float off to nowhere,

Attempting vehicular manslaughter along the way.

They bump

And whine to be allowed to stay

So they can tempt death again

And they run over toes

And purposefully crash into each other

Then cry foul and call

The managers, which are pests.


Finally, they leave.

They leave…

Their trash and purses and cell phones and trash…

And it is time to close.

Time to refill the gas tanks

(Meanwhile saturate clothes and skin with

flammable liquid)

And walk the course

(Shoo out the amorous couple

            in the cave)

And empty the trash…

            Carry the bags of offal

            And soda and half-eaten

            Burned plastic pizza

Past the bright flood lights,

Several bags at a time to cast a shadow

Like some deranged Santa Claus

Bringing gifts that ooze slime

And drip foul pus

Not to a chimney, but a putrid dumpster

For the rats and the roaches, which are pests.


Then inside: “am I done?”

To be handed a spray bottle and towel

With which to clean the windows

To the sycophantic drawl of facetious appreciation

From the shift leaders, which are pests.


Finally, drive home,

Madly clutching tomorrow’s schedule:

Five to Close.


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Copyright ©2000 Adam Rutledge