Working night security

the foot soldiers of the packing plant

march with heads bowed

destined for the graveyard shift

and I watch them file by

through the west gate

of the plant in South St. Paul

as I sit accompanied by my badge

and other accouterments of my position

dressed in my finely pressed

ShurFire Security uniform

wearing my best black patent leather

Red Wing steel toed shoes

and I watch them carefully

all of them

the reluctant executioners

some carrying vegetarian fare

in coal black lunch pails

as they crush out

half smoked cigarettes

in the sand buckets that stand

outside of the guard shack

directly beneath the sign that reads

ABSOLUTELY NO SMOKING BEYOND THIS POINT

and in some cases they aggressively

but seldom carelessly

punch time cards into

the unforgiving grey metal clock

11:58PM … clackity clack it goes one time

11:59PM … clackity clack it  goes another

a girl in a denim jacket

blue jeans and knee high gum-rubber boots

pushes her black horned rim glasses

higher on her nose and looks straight ahead

looking frail and out of place

in the pale green light

doomed time card in hand

12:01AM … clackity clack

she’s docked in what could have been

a simple twist of fate

brought on perhaps by

a crying baby – unsavory husband

overheated car

an unforgiving day

“Hey,” yells the foreman

“you playin’ with yourself out there?”

tardy girl shuffles in like

she didn’t hear it