Ghost, Self-Portrait, and Pan by Amy Kotthaus (top to bottom)

Poetry No. 11 – Mary Brancaccio

What They Do for a Living
By Mary Brancaccio

“I’m not sure what the people of Scranton do for a living. ”
———————————–Tamara Shopsin, author of Mumbai New York Scranton


Plow highways during blizzards   mold engine parts

for assembly overseas   drive robots that fill juice cans

weld seals on oil tanker trucks   roll molten tar in summer’s heat

hammer planks on decks (two hundred miles from home)   scour

kitchens   diaper babies   feed someone else’s kids   wash & fold

at Laundromats   style & perm hair   empty bedpans   make custom

sandwiches in midday rush   assemble ring pops   restack

shelves at mini-marts   load clothes on racks at Walmart overnight

guard warehouses after hours with just a flashlight   wipe

urine splats off toilets in office suites at dawn   steer tractors

through fields of food they can’t afford to buy   scrub lip gloss

off café goblets   drive bus tours for fans of The Office   fix straps

on snowboards on weekends   join the army for a paycheck

and healthcare   sleep in trucks in winter (when working out of town)

gulp fast food meals for less than a Starbucks mocha latte

live on less than thirty thou   pay bills late   fish & hunt venison for food

never own a passport   never see Mumbai and wonder




what you do.

Mary Brancaccio’s poetry has appeared in Minerva Rising, Edison Literary Review, Naugatuck River Review, Chest and in two international anthologies of poetry. Her chapbook, Mistress of Buttons & Keys was a finalist in Minerva Rising’s “Dare to Be” poetry chapbook contest. She currently lives and teaches in New Jersey.



Featured Photographer:

Amy Kotthaus is a writer, painter, translator, and photographer. Her work includes poetry, Latin translation, abstract painting, and black and white photography. She received her B.A. in English from the University of Southern Maine, and she currently lives in Maine with her husband and children.