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About this Poem 

“I wanted to do a project where I wrote a poem every day for three months until I qualified for health insurance at my cashier job. The only rule was the first line of the poem had to be the first thing I rang up at the grocery co-op that day. Over the course of the project, I became incredibly invested in what the customer would put down on the conveyor belt first, because its randomness often influenced the poems on a musical and sonic level. I never feel more alive than when I’m engaged in a daily writing project.”

—Ali Liebegott

Shift #5

for Seamus Heaney 

 
a box of coconut water 
two cans of coconut milk 

so many looking for help 

some people care when a poet dies 

a poem is a conscience 
a report card, a confession: 

today my lies were a motor that spun the Earth 

how can you get truth from a hill 
when I am the continent that drifts? 

how can I taste what I’m mourning 
when soon everything will be salt from the sea? 

 
—8/30/13, Register 6 
          1 PM—5:15 p.m.

Copyright @ 2014 by Ali Liebegott. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 6, 2014.

Copyright @ 2014 by Ali Liebegott. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 6, 2014.

Ali Liebegott

Ali Liebegott

Ali Liebegott is the author of the novels Cha-Ching! (City Lights, 2013), The IHOP Papers (Carroll & Graf, 2007), and The Beautifully Worthless (Suspect Thoughts, 2005).

by this poet

poem

I want to grow old with you.
Old, old.

So old we pad through the supermarket
using the shopping cart as a cane that steadies us.

I’ll wait at register two in my green sweater
with threadbare elbows, smiling
because you’ve forgotten the bag of day-old pastries.

The

2
poem

always the hopeless asked to give others hope
the ones pushed up against wall after wall

when you’re done unpinning yourself
from the wall, please give hope

those who work twice as hard to seem half as good
being asked to do one more thing

we need to be seen
because things are

2