The Walmart nametag pinned to an ill-fitting vest read “Phoenix,”
but he had no wings,
just long skinny limbs that were good for reaching
merchandise on high shelves.
Thousands of sunless, minimum-wage hours
almost succeeded in reducing him to another corporate zombie
trapped in the dead fluorescent cavern
for the brutally long Florida summer.
Until one early Saturday morning,
when there were almost no customers,
and the assistant manager had spilled something slippery
so he could sock-skate across the floor
because everyone at Walmart lost their minds eventually.
Phoenix restocked the rugs into tall cages
watching his supervisor with amusement,
knowing it was only a matter of time.
He hoisted another rolled rug onto his shoulders,
then, his eyes twinkling from behind thick glasses
he unrolled the rug onto the clean-sliding industrial linoleum.
A cloud of dust arose as he pushed the rug across the floor,
his worn-out sneakers squeaking with hope
as he launched into a running start and leapt onto the polyester,
startled to find that it smelled of sawdust and rich, outdoor spices
The carpet slid with surprising speed past ottomans and futons
but it did not stop at the end of the aisle.
It shot past the five-dollar movies and picked up speed
And gained altitude
Then feet, until
Phoenix found himself flying
The carpet circled the store once, twice, just below the lights,
as the aisles and the co-workers grew smaller beneath him.
He dove down towards the assistant manager and yelled
“Take it out of my paycheck!” as the carpet sped towards the automatic doors
He heard unfamiliar music—no, it was himself, laughing
as he flung his blue vest overboard and shot
out and up, into the morning sky.