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.23) The Doormen
(1948 / OVER 400 POEMS SERVED! !)

.23) The Doormen

Maroon-red blazers,
they make the doormen wear
in the lobby of this building
where I live,19 floors up.

I pass before the tribunal
of their faces
whenever I go out
or come back home,

make conversation
to overcome embarrassment
before these black men
hired to baby-sit
the 164 units-of-us
living in this tower.

'My doorman's waiting up' —
the thought flies through my head,
as if he's some dorm-mom,
as I come home at night.

Of course,
when I'm buzzed in,
it's a bored face
dutifully mouthing
'Good evening, sir'.
I struggle to get past him
without feeling guilt
for his low wages
or his boring job.

'How do you get
through the night? '
I ask one elderly,
black-bereted sentinel
on the midnight shift.
'I reads and I nods, '
he tells me.

I try to imagine
looking forward
to a maroon-red jacket
and buzzing open
a door for wealthy folks
until the day I die.

These men have become
arbiters of my conscience.
Every time I pass them
I try to justify my life,


silently contemplating
on the elevator: Am I
living my caring?

How else
could I deserve
this life of privilege,
19 floors above
the doormen?

(1998)

User Rating: 5 / 5 ( 0 votes ) 5

Comments (5)

It occures to me to ask why you think you're better off being 19 floors up? When a man has a job during which he 'reads a little and nods a little' who is the happier of you two? ? ? Well written, from your own perspective. Scarlett
It's that looming space between, isn't it, something not quite comfortable to live with. Very well written piece Max, I enjoyed this read a lot. Love Ernestine XXX
A very genuine look into the lives that we live. A great observation of social imbalance and human interaction. How he makes you feel guilty and embarassed for him being a bored underpaid doorman. It makes me wonder about their thoughts as they see you walk through their doorways trying consciously to not look down on them. Do they pity you or are they embarrassed too?
Am I living my caring? What a wonderful question. Very enjoyable read. Hugs Anna xxx
Max, This is a great poem. Loved it. Peace.