Sweat Shop Poems – Sally Michaelson


Stranded in your suit, Ellis Island
prods you through a pen

where vowels escape
fom a jutting jaw

that get smashed flat
by your incomprehension

no lice or scurvy
just a foreign name

so they stamp you Jim
on your entry visa.



The delivery boy
awash with cold air, is rolling
the frozen bales.

The baster’s thread
emerges from the chalk track
and dips back in

like the dolphin he saw
in Mid-Atlantic
on the passage over.

He tacks the suit
keeping things together
until the finisher

unpicks his stitches. With hands
heavy as his twenty pound iron,
the presser steams the suit.

Soup and yiddish are strong as sisal
while outside, in Lower East Side
Americans say U boy and are very tall.
To them the baster is like his suit
a thread away
from going hungry or home.

Sally Michaelson is a Conference Interpreter in Brussels, Belgium. Her poems have been published in Ink,Sweat and Tears, Lighthouse, The Bangor Literary Journal, Algebra of Owls, Amethyst and The High Window.

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