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About this poet

Jan Beatty is the author of The Switching/Yard (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). She directs the creative writing program at Carlow University and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Sticking It to the Man

Lateeka's working, my favorite teller—
she's got wild nail art & fire red/
feather extensions.
In line: young guy in hi-tops w/ipod,
black blazer girl on her lunch hour.
Lateeka & I always talk hair & makeup,
she's in school for accounting.
A guy with 20-inch arms in a Hines Ward jersey/
cut off at the sleeves,
a white-haired woman with
a cane & her daughter
—no suits.
Restaurant guy walks up to the window
with a bagful of receipts—
the blonde teller working the line
leaves her post & exits side-door,
so it's Lateeka & people
roll their eyes & grumble:
Oh great, now there's only one teller up there.
Steeler guy shakes his head:
Jesus Christ, do you believe this?
Daughter to mother:
Why don't you sit down?
Blazer girl turns:
I'm late for an appointment.
Steeler guy waves his massive arms wide
like he's going out for a pass:
Hey, I got an idea—
why don't we shut this shit down & open up a bank?

We turn to see his arms jabbing the air
like he's trying to grab it down—
his neck red with rage.
He barrels out the door & we bust into
laughing, the air full with mutiny:
1 new spot open, we inch forward like
fat cattle, clutching our checks
a little less tightly.
We have won for the day,
we are sticking it to the man.

Copyright © 2015 by Jan Beatty. From The Switching/Yard (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Copyright © 2015 by Jan Beatty. From The Switching/Yard (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Jan Beatty

Jan Beatty

Jan Beatty is the author of The Switching/Yard (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). She directs the creative writing program at Carlow University and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

by this poet

poem
The torso facing east, the head nearly west,
as if she couldn't take in the sight of her
own skin and its failings, its parts spilling
onto other parts. She thought:
Nothing for once.
Too tired for fantasy.
If a body can be seen as itself and loved,
it's a wonderful thing. If the thing-ness
of the body is all,
poem
The thing I'll never write is the green leaf
with its rubbery-hard veins, I'll never
write the structure exposed, instead

I'll write the girl picking it up, green leaf,
her pudgy hand & her wanting it, that's it,
because she knows the sky is full

of stumbling ghosts, & she's back in the cold
room, back
poem

                       Banff, Alberta

The mother elk and 2 babies are sniffing
the metal handle of the bear-proof trash bin.
I remember the instructions for city people:
3 football fields of space between you &
the elk if their babies are with them.

I’m backing