Traction


By Thomas Maluck

The boss points to you.
Get out. Truck's stuck. Mud.
There's plywood.
You step into the sinking patch
wishing you had boots
and sort through the truck
wishing you had gloves.
Pipe, upholstery, Styrofoam coolers:
each kept dry and sorted
as the engine roar reminds
it is time to get a move on.

The flat wedge finally slides out
and you drop it behind the tire.
The boss's window glides open
with a mechanical buzz:
Hold the plywood in place,
you're not being paid to stand there.

The tires whip a layer of creamy earth
across your face.
The board is your coworker.
You're both specialists
in getting run over.


Thomas Maluck was born and raised in Virginia and works as a librarian in South Carolina. His poetry has appeared in several anthologies and chapbooks, most recently Grievances and A Sense of the Midlands, and he won the Library of Virginia's Dark Side writing contest in 2013.