Be a professional bitch

my supervisor says.
Or is it, be a professional, bitch.
I can’t tell from the tone, from the placement of the comma.
I can never tell where people place their commas
in real life, maybe that’s why I’m a poet and not

an orator, not an actor, not a professional billboard
reader, though I’d love to be. I’d love to be a wind-chime
dangler, but my arms are stubbly, short. I’d love to feed
manatees but would they let me swim with them,
too? Right now I’m at work in a hospital, again, like

I am five days of my week every week, and
my boss is speaking to me in a tone I would call
condescending, maybe someone else would call
straight out of a mean boss movie. I imagine I’m
Kate Moss rolling my eyes at the audacity people can

still be so rude, to such a lovely, charming, evidently
loved and good protagonist, but it’s my boss, and I’m
no actor, and I don’t think I’d like to be, though I wish
I had been a child dance prodigy, my voice in my legs in
my jutting elbows, I’m not speaking yet, I realize, and

I think, but, I do read my poems exceptionally well,
at bookstores, in my bedroom aloud to nobody
but that fly buzzing around my lamp, but my roommate
trying to sleep who is too polite to tell me I’m keeping
him up, keeping up my professional job, I smile, I say,

I’ll work on it, boss, you are in charge here and we
all know that, we all know you want me to be very
very serious, to act as though this job is what I have
most to be grateful for, but, I just don’t feel that
strongly about something just for someone else’s

sake, if it’s not moving me, if I can’t print and sit
in a coffee shop with it, a group of us, exposing each
of our hidden moles, you would think this world
is out here trying to ruin our skin, but I think it’s
beautiful, that we have blemishes, really, I do.

Sam Herschel Wein lives in Chicago and specializes in aimless frolicking. His chapbook, Fruit Mansion (Split Lip Press, 2017) was the winner of the 2016 Turnbuckle Chapbook prize. He is the poetry editor for The Blueshift Journal, and runs a new journal, Underblong, with his best friend, Chen Chen. Recent work can be found in HobartMojo, and Connotation Press, among others. He can be found at

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