Two poems by Alex Gallo-Brown

crabpotsnovember crabpots / credit: em

The Normal Ways

In the morning
her mom is gone
and it is just me
watching her tip
an empty espresso
cup to her lips
or fuss with a bottle
of the spiciest hot sauce
on Beacon Hill.
There is nowhere
I would rather be
than here
with my daughter
spitting sour blackberries
into plastic Tupperware
or piling miniature
granola-and-yogurts onto
a rubber spoon.

I can feel my younger self
looking, judging, leering
with disappointment.
That is no way to live,
I might have said, did
to older men
who I assessed
as insufficiently alive.
What did I know then?
I was exhausted
by a kind of pain
I find hard to remember
sitting here on the kitchen floor
brushing my thumb
against her upper lip
or turning her body
upside down
until her mouth
makes a song
I can’t imagine
living without.

I was never content
with the normal ways.
That will be what
I will tell you
when you are older
if I don’t forget,
which I might
since my mind
is not a thing
one should rely on
or attempt to predict.
But my love—
that is constant.
That will always
be for you.

At the Truck Outside Chevron

At the truck outside Chevron,
union organizers gather
alongside construction workers
who labor outside
their jurisdiction.
The city is too expensive, one worker says,
ladling pineapple salsa onto potatoes and chorizo,
holding tight to his Mexican-born Squirt.
The woman I work with nods
but avoids his eyes.
They live in the same town—
he could be one house down.
In a sense, they are the same,
in so many others, not even close.
Trash streams over the floor
of my Corolla—an organizer’s car
more than one person
has said admiringly,
although I do my best
to clean it.
In the world I imagine is a phrase
I read once in a poem.

In the world, I imagine
is a feat unto itself.

About Alex Gallo Brown

Alex Gallo-Brown is a writer and labor organizer in Seattle. He is the author of Variations of Labor (Chin Music Press, 2019), a collection of poems and stories. His website is alexgallobrown.com.

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