22 years old, Wyatt Walker had to be good.
Nine more days to go on company “Probation,”
before joining International Brotherhood of Teamsters,
Wyatt had to stay productive, obedient.
One morning, he certified to operate a tow motor,
equipped with a long metal pole,
he successfully moved a 25 foot roll of carpet
from one trailer to another.
Wyatt felt good, knew he could do it.
At loading dock edge, Wyatt saw a foreman
with clipboard, watching every move.
Wyatt broke the aluminum seal of assigned trailer door,
recorded seal # 031714PA upon company “Production Card.”
he opened trailer door,
cartons of freight toppled upon cold concrete floor,
Wyatt remembered how easy a best friend
said he had it working at Trader Joe’s.
The foreman hollered,
“Your lucky day, Wyatt, looks like you don’t have
much heavy stuff to hump around.”
Only nine more shifts needed to join Teamsters!
All Wyatt had to do was empty a 42′ trailer before Noon.
He remembered days in Riverside H.S. “Special Education.”
How kids laughed while he struggled to read aloud
a paragraph from “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
With one shot, Wyatt knew MLK’s shift ended,
maybe joined union beyond, & laughter went underground.
One quarter of way inside trailer,
Wyatt encountered sacks of Miracle-Gro potting soil.
All he had to do was discern “consignee” addresses
listed on each sack,
take care each arrived at proper dock door,
the NYC borough where potting soil was bound.
Wyatt’s stack of Bills of Lading indicated 250-sacks,
foreman advised, “You better pick up the pace. Walker.”
Five years ago,
Wyatt recalled placing handful of soil
upon his mother’s pine wood casket.
Reverend Zajac proclaimed Ann went to better place,
had joined a union where life would be better.
He sensed things might work out better for Mom than
years spent sewing in Lennie Lee’s Manufacturing Co.,
a member, International Ladies Garment Union.
Nine more days, nine more days to go.
Sacks of Miracle-Gro potting soil challenged Wyatt,
he imagined all the NYC flowers counting on him.
The foreman secretly considered Wyatt
a valuable entity for increased production.
Six foot tall, silver earring, shaved head, amazing vigor,
having failed badly at S.A.T.’s could not hurt him anymore,
Wyatt stacked potting soil upon a wood pallet,
climbed upon tow motor seat,
tilted and raised pallet, blew horn for worker safety,
abided by Company speed limit to Queens door # 19…,
Only nine more days to go, he had no memory
who his teacher said popped Mr. King and why.