We Worked the Evening Shift
and the Casino Paid Us at Midnight
Stinking from the night’s grind,
rancid French fry grease and pickle juice clinging
to our aproned skin
cigarette smoke perfuming our hair,
we didn’t care. It was payday and we had fake IDs
and a change of clothes,
ready to cut loose and spend
some hard earned cash outside our casino walls.
We wanted to taste not our salty grime,
but one another’s skin flavored with tequila and lime.
Beneath the cage’s bright lights our foreheads
glistened. Yeah, we knew the casino’s game,
but we were young and smart, We wouldn’t fall
into their trap. We tallied up potential dance partners
while waiting to cash our paychecks—
One or two co-workers bailed out—
Hey! I’m tired. I’m gonna call it a night—
We knew better.
My Older Man with his sad eyes
stayed behind throwing dice and I went outside
to stand beneath (inside) the wet moon’s
armpit stain. Any night now, My Older Man had whispered,
I’ll hit it big and I’ll be outta here. What about me?
We’ll be outta here.
Waitressing a summer job after my first year of college,
an in-between stopover on the way to a better life—
Robin Michel is a poet and communications consultant for non-profits, K-12 and community college districts. Robin’s work has appeared in Blue Mountain Review, Comstock Review, The MacGuffin, and elsewhere. She is editor of How to Begin: Poems, Prompts, Tips and Writing Exercises from the Fresh Ink Poetry Collective (Raven & Wren Press, 2020). Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Robin has lived in Northern California for most of her life.