Your Cashier Today Was Self
David Ebenbach
                      (printed on a grocery store receipt)

And so was my banker this morning, the crisp
  back and forth of buttons and slots, and so was
    my overworked therapist, and even my public

transportation was my self’s feet, all the way
  up the avenue’s hill, past a string of sighing
    buses. Because I don’t know if I’d go as far as

Sartre, but other people are tough, anyway, or
  at least talking to them. Which everyone thinks,
    which is why everybody you see all day is a

machine, vending you what you need. A vend
  is so clear—slot for receive and smaller slot for
    give. Though then they start beeping wrong or

double-charging you or making your copies
  too light, and some person has to come around
    and say, It shouldn’t be doing that.

The truth is, we don’t like the machines,
  if we’re each going to be some kind of snowflake
    or something. Meanwhile,

I wish I didn’t need anything or that
  someone would just invent a machine
    that could repair itself.
David Ebenbach is the author of seven books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, including the poetry collection We Were the People Who Moved (Tebot Bach) and the short story collection The Guy We Didn’t Invite to the Orgy and other stories (University of Massachusetts Press). Ebenbach has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Find out more at

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Personal Day