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A Poem in the Before Choice Disturbs collection

In Defense of Education

The gas station poets sat in the garage inhaling
exhaust fumes for the cheap high. Waiting
for the next car to ring its way on to the lot. They rise
and go to the car competing for the attention of
some guy who just wants to pump his gas.

One works entirely in Burma Shave
jingles. Another is dressed in bard garb, singing
bawdy travel songs. The other, gospel hymns about
highway Jesuses. When the motorist leaves for the cashier

the screaming around the car
intensifies. The kids don't know what to make of the
man howling "Burma Shave! Burma Shave!"
trying to jimmy the door handle, or the woman with
her face pressed hard against the glass so her
cheek and nose are squashed flat. White and
smooth. The man returns and everything stops.

All three hands extend, in the hope
of finding a new patron. Typically, he leaves,
putting the change in his own pocket. The poets
retreat to their automotive opium den.

With their schooling and degrees, they know
this is a sad turn, and it is confirmed; punctuated
in the scratchings of the car wash
sociologists across the street.

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