Friday, September 11, 2009

Poem: Anger at the Register

I wrote this poem today while on a break at work today. It just had to come out. I was a cashier at health food stores and coffee shops during undergraduate school. I was also a collegiate athlete for two years in cross country and track before I worked most of these jobs. I was a hard core runner! But when I quit running in college my life as I had formerly known it was over. My confidence in who I was crashed fast. When I quit running I had to work whatever part time job I could find because my job when I was an athlete was running full time and then some. I had low self esteem and lacked confidence to ask about doing internships in my department in college. I wandered lost for many years after I quit running. By the time I got to graduate school I was encouraged by my professors and people in my department to do internships. I have been rebuilding my confidence and life since 2002. Its been 7 years since I quit running and college. I tried to run over the years and it never felt right. I tried running recently and it feels so good again. Finally, it is a match! The poem below is a reflection of energy I am purging and releasing. It can hurt to revisit this but it is essential to write this to bring wholeness in my life again.

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Anger at the Register

I've got anger at the register,
Sidelined running career,
I sit on the bench,
With my hands covering my eyes,
Covering my tears,
I've got anger at the register,
I'm Native,
You can't see me,
I cover my body,
I run away,
I've got anger at the register,
Customer service,
Poverty level wage,
Beer bottle curse,
Wripped and torn receipts,
I've got anger at the register,
Ringing up your groceries,
Bagging them,
Green counter,
Dirty counter,
I've got anger at the register,
A hole in my jeans,
In junior high,
Principal assuming I was dirt poor,
Stigmatized working middle class Native youth,
I've got anger at the register,
I can't eat,
I can't sleep,
I can't be me,
I breathe your toxic air,
I've got anger at the register,
I am just another women of color,
Ringing up someone's groceries,
While I go hungry,
In more ways than one,
I've got anger at the register,
Because I want peace in my life,
I've stepped over every land mine,
Inside my mind,
I've got anger at the register,
My soul deep rooted to the Earth,
You keep cutting my roots,
Removing me,
From my home territory,
I've got anger at the register,
These lights in this store I work at,
Are hurting my soul,
Dig into me,
I've got anger at the register,
I've got anger at the register,
And most wonder why the working poor are so mad.


K.C. Jones said...

I love it! I've got "anger at the register" too-I quit my retail job a few weeks ago, but don't know if I can find anything better. I feel my soul needs something different, but bills don't care. You might like the book, The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling by Arlie Russell Hochschild. I read it in a sociology class and should be required reading for everyone who works in the service/retail industry.

Ojibway Migisi Bineshii said...

K.C. - Glad you quit your retail job and I hope you find something awesome soon!

I have not worked a retail job since 2004. I have been working in non-profits since then. From what I have read on amazon about this book I think it could apply to any job. I do not like the commercialization of my emotions in the world or in a job for that matter. That I have to act a certain way to play the game. I seek an authentic way of leading - it can be challenging to build that into my career.

rainman said...

I love your poem. Miigwech for sharing your thoughts and feelings on this matter. I spend my days speaking to young Anishinabe students about not accepting less than they deserve or are capable of.
Best to you,
Baa maa pii,

FETE VIDAL said...

regards from spain!!!! Fantastic!!!

r/r said...

I like this poem a lot, the repetition of "anger at the register" is really effective, it sounds so good. Really talented, good job

Anishinaabekwe said...

Thanks Fete & r/r!