When the Moon Swallows a Whale

      Even though Hakim works close to
      one hundred hour weeks, never calls in sick,
      never asks for a day off, and never stops to
      take more than his designated breaks, Tommy
      and Rick, knowing little about tolerance or
      geography, refer to him as a lazy Mexican.

      When Hakim does break, he goes to the
      stockroom to pray or stays in his station
      and sits on an upside down plastic bucket,
      between the dishwasher and a metal rack,
      where pots and pans wait to be used.

      He pulls clay from plastic bags he stores
      in a soup pot, manipulates blobs into animals—
      wild goats, crocodiles, leopards, dolphins, wolves,
      sheep, boars, whales, that come and go with
      little or no acknowledgment just like the racks

      of dishes and silverware. Then there is
      his son Asif’s creation, cut-outs of planets
      and stars thumb-tacked to the dishroom walls—
      a stationary universe engulfing them
      like this new culture swallowing their Pakistan
      like a wide-mouthed moon swallowing
      a whale head first, allowing its tail to
      dangle like a sloppy tongue.


This piece is from my new collection Waiting at the Dead End Diner which was just published by Bottom Dog Press. Currently, I am working on poems that focus on a working class neighborhood in a city much like the one I live in, about people much like the people who I live amongst. Some of the characters from Cadillac Men and Waiting at the Dead End Diner make guest appearances. I am very interested in the everyday, how we find the strength to survive.


Rebecca Schumejda is the author of Waiting at the Dead End Diner published by Bottom Dog Press in 2014 & Cadillac Men published by New York Quarterly Books in 2012. Falling Forward published by sunnyoutside press in 2009, The Map of Our Garden published by Words Dance Publishing, Dream Big, Work Harder in 2006 by sunnyoutside press. Her first chapbook The Tear Duct of the Storm was published by Green Bean Press in 2001. She earned degrees from SUNY New Paltz and San Francisco State University. She lives, teaches, and writes in New York’s Hudson Valley. You can find out more at RebeccaSchumejda.com.