Three poems by Damian Rucci

Working-Class Anxiety

Sundays are for picking
what we can live without
they cut my hours at work
again, so something is
getting shut off

if we eat one big meal
in the afternoon, I can steal
something at work and we’ll be okay
the internet and cable are going
we’ll have to borrow the neighbor’s

my feet are calloused and raw
I haven’t had socks in months
these rubber souls are wholey
my feet tear at the asphalt

I have working class anxiety
living paycheck to paycheck
I want to be a good man
but I have to make sure
we’re taken care of

I watch the armored truck
park in front of the store
and I dream of adventure
of wrestling the guard to the ground
breaking away with more money
than anyone in my neighborhood
has ever seen

I’d buy us a good apartment
in a good part of town, buy my mom
a car so she can get to work
buy my little brother an education
take us out of this cycle

that turns hard-working people
into criminals and addicts and mass cards
the truck pull away, with it my hopes
I think of all the working class casualties
all those boys with good in their hearts

serving mandatory minimum sentences
all those families stuck on welfare
the American dream is only
for those who can afford it

the rest of us sleep dreamless
with empty pockets we find our vices
and use anything to get us to tomorrow
that tomorrow feels a lot like today
but we all have some big fantasy
we all have an armored truck

Did We Ever Make it Out of Atlantic Street?

Emily
I think of you
when I walk down Atlantic Street

I look to the intersection of Church
I see no God but I can still see you
at the end of your driveway
ten years old; angelic and innocent

when I lived in the apartment
on the third floor by the bodega
I would bounce a ball
I would watch the clouds
I would wait for you
to come outside

and we would play
until the street lights came on
talk about the silly things
those odd ten year old things
until your father’s screams
would break the quiet

Did we ever really make it
out of Atlantic street?

You a single mother
at twenty four
lost somewhere deep
in the cracks of the system
trying to make magic
out of the crumbs that
fell into your lap

while I’m swimming
in pipe dreams,
working dead end jobs
writing poems in the spaces
between the shifts

we were but the sums
of the leftover parts
of broken dreams
our mothers killing themselves
chaining themseles
to any job that kept
food in the refridgerator

our fathers never intended
to watch us grow up
yours at the kitchen table
smoking pills off aluminum foil
while we played catch
in the backyard

as my father
fashioned nosses
out of polyester flags
of surrender in protective custody

where do the days go now?
I close my eyes as I pass the bodega
in between the bird songs, I can
almost hear our laughter

frozen in time, etched into the sidewalks
forever a picture of innocence
a memory of times now forgotten

We Call It a Good Time

We don’t call it addiction
or demon or parasite
we call it a good time
we call it inspiration
we call it a good lay
we call it morning breath

and we laugh at the world
while sniffing powder
off of the dirty table
with a mcdonalds straw
“they got it all wrong man!”

them suits, them somebodies
them beloved souls, them unbroken
who walk on the hands
of their ancestor’s fortunes
so to never know the asphalt.

we start dodging daylight
covering the windows with towels
the floor becomes consumed
with aluminum cans; we haven’t
seen the kitchen in months

this one room studio grows possessed
swims through our bones, breaths evil
makes us throw furniture at the walls
bare teeth and snarl at each other
this room doesn’t want us to leave

that’s why we start making sacrifices to it
giving up friends and hobbies
taking our money and buying it more fuel
more powder, more herb, we’re exhausted
but it calls for us whenever we sleep

when we leave in the middle of the night
we take our clothes and just go
we don’t call it a good time
we don’t call it inspiration
we don’t call it a good lay anymore
we call it death’s omen.

Damian Rucci is a writer and poet from New Jersey whose work has recently appeared in Cultural Weekly, This Broken Shore, and basements and coffee shops around the country. He is the author of three chapbooks and a split with Ezhno Martin The Former Lives of Saints. Damian was the founder of the Poetry in the Port reading series and writes a column on Street Poetry for the London magazine Public House.

2 Replies to “Three poems by Damian Rucci”

  1. These are all like punches to the gut from a schoolyard bully that teach you more than a year’s-worth of school.

    Excellent, Damian!

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