for the woman I saw this morning on the sidewalk outside a Planet Fitness, wearing jorts, drinking coffee out of a to-go cup, and smoking a cigarette.

I’ll begin by admitting
that my entire train of thought this morning
as I worked my way through elliptical,
lower body, and arms
which is where I saw you,
as I was resting between sets
seated at a machine
which is a clear violation of protocol
at all the many gyms I’ve been a member of

may be based on fallacy. You may
have looked through the glass at us
and thought haha losers in which case
you are philosophically miles ahead
of this chautauqua

but you looked so ill at ease
and seemed to be avoiding
the collective plate-glass glare
of twenty or thirty people
who have the time and energy
to work out before they go to work

and you may have felt
that we were judging you
but Martha, if I may call you that
on the million-to-one chance
that’s your name

Planet Fitness is a Judgement Free Zone
or so the advertisements say
and they have no more reason to lie
than any of the other signs
at the aging shopping center
where we work out or
could get a EASY PAYDAY LOAN
at a diner which sits next to
the Family Drug Store Where the Customer Comes First
and down at the end,
which is what I suspect you were waiting for,
having bought foam cup coffee at the diner
and perhaps the cigarettes at the Wholesale Tobacco Outlet
there is the Independent Auto Company

And I hope he had good news for you
or at least was truthful if he said
If you was my mamma I wouldn’t let you leave here with them brakes.

Because honestly Wilma, or whoever you are,
we’re all caught in a web of limited ways and means,
and we choose from the choices we have.
After you left I showered, dressed, and went to my office,
feeling a little virtuous and smug, like I’d gotten ahead of something.

My first call when I got there was to Verizon,
and it took me two hours to undo everything
they’d done to my account the day before.

Good Night

One night this week I didn’t have to
grocery shop, go meet a group of hopeful strivers, or
fix a document the damn phone wouldn’t stop for all day.

This job
takes something out of me. Most think it’s the screen time,
but I like the predictable blink of the cursor, the average
of the e-mail response time. What gets me is the relentlessness
of the vague: being switched away from a problem I was gaining on,
listening to someone for some clue one of us knows
what they’re talking about. Sleep doesn’t cure it. It’s like
being woken up 16 times a day.