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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 3, September 2017
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Michael H. Lester
Los Angeles, California, USA


Help Wanted: Inquire Within

Carl, the station manager, debates hiring the man with ten years' experience or the high school student looking for a summer job.

The huge truck pulls up to the gas pump, an elephant in a dollhouse. A rugged, no-nonsense truck driver hops out of the cab and tells me to fill 'er up on his way to the restroom.

strange machines
spew toxic fumes . . .
I grasp at snakes
in a forest of smokestacks
and fire-breathing dragons

When the tank is half-full, the truck driver returns from the bathroom in a panic. He leaps into the cab and shuts off the engine. You idiot! he shouts. This is a diesel engine. The whole thing could have blown. The engine is ruined!

Carl does not fire me but relieves me of pump duty and moves me to the back office, where he keeps a close watch on my activities.

eyes penetrate
denim and cotton . . .
they take journeys
hands, lips, and tongues
can only dream about

I cash in all the Tulsa green stamps I earn in two months, buy a full tank of gas at 17.9 cents a gallon, and drive to California in a beat-up Pontiac. I find work in a seedy San Diego Gaslamp Quarter nightclub as a male stripper. Here, the eyes have nothing on the hands.

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