Miscalculation—Island style

A poem by Jane Mack

You’re at a news conference,
listening to an employer.

“I hate the way he shrugs his shoulders
when he talks about his workers”
you tell her, not knowing
the connections of the person
you’re talking to. She’s the sister of the guy.
Her only reaction is raised eyebrows.

The employer promises pay raises.
You turn to the man next to you –
You say, “Yeah, right, that’ll be the day,”
not knowing this seatmate is his cousin and kumpaire.

And what you said becomes you—
your image,
your reputation,
the lock and key
Brands you skeptic

You’ve been here before, twenty years ago.
You think you’ll remember the way
but the roads are now paved
and there are buildings with peeling paint
and signs in Chinese
and you can’t find the huge breadfruit tree
that you remember.
There are so many more little side roads,
and no sound of children laughing or chickens crowing; instead there’s a grinding, metal sound of industrial work.

Nothing feels rights.

You look at the sky and think,
I can walk this evening.
No problem.
No rain,
but it rains unexpectedly.

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