Nobody notices my two-syllable name
stamped on this thin brass rectangle,
tacked to a wooden plaque
near double-doors that swing open then shut.
The red and white stripes of our uniforms
are the colors we bleed when cut. That was our joke.
You never notice a slice after it scars.
It is tough to be aware and live in skin.
My moniker lives in rows with eleven others awarded
the corporate fifty, names I helped pull out of the weeds,
or drank beer with in the parking lot. Names I could ignore forever
because they never were team players. Tonight, as the door swings
closed behind me, the weariness of the extra shifts made me feel shucked
and exposed. Tonight, faint praise is a destiny I can't recognize.
Fred Shaw is a graduate of the MFA program at Carlow University and teaches at Carlow and Point Park universites. He lives in Ross. His work has appeared in 5AM, Mason's Road, Pittsburgh City Paper and Shaking Magazine.