It’s interesting to me there’s a minimum but no maximum wage. One without the other seems like pants without legs or love without someone to love. So what are the groups? People who want no minimum or maximum wage; people who want a minimum but no maximum wage; people who want a minimum and maximum wage; and people who want to eat. A minimum wage of twenty bucks an hour is roughly eight hundred a week, or forty grand a year, or 1.6 million in a life. There’s your maximum wage—1.6 million a year. If you earn in a year what I earn my entire life, you deserve the right to be happy about it in a gated community where you don’t have to be ashamed of the dance of your joy. I deserve the right to put heirloom tomatoes in the salad now and then. Such as when my kid got her cast off and her hand looked fine, like it intended to go on waving at moonlight and birds. And I never thought about it but slipped the insurance card out of my wallet and slid it over. And the car started the first time for the drive home to our little bungalow that needs a new paint job, but that’ll happen this summer, right before we go to a lake for a few days and I open a beer one night and think, I have a place in whatever this is. Then listen to the stars saying nothing in peace, though what passes for peace is a mystery to me, not unlike who’s behind the universe or why so many people in unions voted for people who wanted to kill unions, but we did and they died, unions died. Now where on earth am I supposed to send the flowers?
Copyright © 2017 Bob Hicok. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2017.