Louella Lester

CLASSICAL CONDITIONING

 

On his deathbed
Pavlov had a student
sit beside him to record
the circumstances of his dying.

This required a lot of patience,
similar to pressing buzzers, blowing whistles,
collecting dog saliva
and recording the results.

Or maybe it was the dogs
who needed the patience,
listening to tuning forks and bells,
drooling to get their food, or not.

Before they invented direct distance dialling,
I worked as a long distance operator,
watching a computer screen,
wearing headphones and waiting.

Beep: Operator may I help you?
Beep: Operator may I help you?
I waited for payday,
saliva building under my tongue.

 

 

GLASS BRICKS

 

They straddle walls and windows, blocking
sound and air, admitting only shadow light.
I’m working demolition and I’ve never
heard of glass bricks, until a boss asks me
to chisel them loose, breaking as few
as possible, then hump them outside
and up a long flight of stairs, four bricks
at a time. Sweat turns the dust on my
forehead into mud and with my hands full
I’m unable to wipe it away. On the sidewalk
I see a jogger, his muscles running like string,
up the length of his damp calves and thighs.
Fuck you, I think, fuck you, but I don’t say it.
You want to stay in shape? Why don’t you carry
some of these glass bricks up this flight of stairs?
Fuck you, I think, fuck you, but I don’t say it.
I’m sinking now, almost stuck in the grey mud
on my forehead and he’s just a guy running by.

 


 

 

Louella Lester writes poetry and fiction in Winnipeg. She is currently working on a multi-genre project involving jobs she’s had over the years. She has poetry upcoming in Prairie Fire: Electric City 2 and Poetry is Dead, and her work has appeared in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, The Antigonish Review and Other Voices.

2 Replies to “Louella Lester”

  1. “Beep: Operator may I help you?
    Beep: Operator may I help you?
    I waited for payday,
    saliva building under my tongue.”

    Very lovely!

  2. I love the glass bricks and the poor running guy ignoring the storm in the other guy’s head. Parallel worlds that some time cross the other one’s path. I love that they are glass bricks and not just bricks.
    bravo
    Valérie

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