Saturday, September 15, 2007

And now for something completely different

Here's a poem written by our good friend Dellana. For those of you unfamiliar, the Internationale is a worker's anthem. No, it's THE worker's anthem. More versions than you could possibly imagine can be found here.

The First Time I Heard the Internationale

I was sixteen and drunk behind a motel
in Nowhere, New Jersey. Just another
summer working as a lifeguard at the local
water park-long hot days
in the cold chlorinated pools. Not bad,
except for the fumes from the motor
of the Colorado River Ride that made many
of the kids who worked there sick
and a few reported temporary blindness.
There was also the danger
of being pulled down the slide
by a bunch of drunk guys from the city,
the kind who thought the girls who worked there
were part of the package
included with the pricey wristbands.
Some days were harder than others
but most days we got out around eight,
stopped home for a shower, then out to the party—
someone's parents away on vacation or a field
with a keg in the back of a pickup truck
about twenty feet off of anything
that could be called a road. But
the night I'm talking about, the night behind the motel
where the foreign help stayed—young men
and women from Ireland, Mexico, England,
a guy from El Salvador, a couple from Hungary—
that night, from room to paint-chipped room the air
was thick with sweat and beer and clunky conversations.
It got to be late and someone had lost his keys,
thought they may have slipped from his pocket
when he was taking a piss out back,
such an easy thing to translate with hand signals
and laughter, soon the whole party
was bent down in the dirt or leaning
over the rickety back deck rails,
squinting and pointing. Anyway, I don't know
who started it, but slowly the voices gathered
and those of us who didn't know the words
were clumsily prompted by our neighbors who
were from everywhere and nowhere.


Melissa said...

And that's the way it was.

therese said...

Yup. Nicely put, huh?

Colleen said...

I hope he found his keys. I wonder what your impression of America would be if you were an exchange worker who obtained it while working at Action Park?

therese said...

I think for the exchange workers, the key was to befriend people with cars. If you couldn't convince them to drive you to Manhattan, at least they would take you to the liquor store.

Anonymous said...

Or, if you were only 19, *you* convinced the exchange workers to take *you* to the liquor stores. 12 packs of Bud for everyone!

Gotta say, they were the hardest workers in the Park. And fun to party with. But I think their final impression of America must have been something along the lines of: "I'll never understand why those Americans have to drive 30 bloody minutes just to see a film!"