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Journal of Ordinary Thought - Spring 2005

  • Subtitle: Twenty Four Hours
  • Published Date: Spring 2005

“A job is like / Being without a shadow,” goes the first line in “Being Without.” A little further on, in alleyways with children there is “More purpose and meaning to their play / Than you with your wheelbarrow.” Meaningless spreads endlessly in poems, essays, oral histories, discussing life without work. But if I had missed the poem’s title, the misreading would have been closer to the other truth, persisting in that sometimes the wrong job is worse or just as depressing as being without one. In “The Place Of Work (Plight),” the work environment is “...a grace trap, / like a fly, trapped in honey, / Like a people without a secret name / ...Every day / is a different stage / Reflecting walls without shadows, / responding to voices without images.” In “Twenty-Four Hours,” the new issue of JOT, people share intimate moments and concerns. JOT, published quarterly, includes photographs, translations, welcomes all faces, views and voices, as “Everybody has a story and deserves to be heard.” Stories, poems, oral histories from Chicago workers, no two narratives are alike. From lines at unemployment offices where “people often have to help each other get through this process, learning the ins and outs of the bureaucratic rules,” to the 73-year-old who once wore three jackets on the coldest day to show up for the strike, to the stay-at-home women and men taking care of the children, the level of the spoken word is from one heart to the other: we’re all in this together is a common theme, like Johnny King, who learned that “if I took my problem down to city hall alone, the Mayor would laugh at me. But if I took ten people, he’d say, ‘This is ten votes.’ And if I took a hundred people, he’d sit up straight . . .” []

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Review Posted on September 30, 2005

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