Poetry: Reappropriation Sonnet by Rebecca Bornstein

Photo by Anggun Tan.

“Steal from work! Because work is stealing from you!”—CrimethInc

At twenty-three, in the deli whites of the grocery store
covered in chicken blood and viscera until midnight,
I wasn’t thinking about stealing. It was more
that I was hungry and the food was right

in front of me, waiting for the compost in the chlorine-
studded dishpit. I ate the piece of pizza with a kid-sized bite
taken out of the crust end. I scooped up the oily greens
left at the bottom of the stew pot. My bosses told us to sit tight

and wait for a raise that wasn’t coming. Instead, we found a way
to feed ourselves by taking what they couldn’t sell
and sneaking it out in take-out boxes—grey

potatoes, fried chicken hardened to a wooden shell.
We ate until we were full and rolled the garbage to the dumpster’s bay
a little lighter, knowing only we could tell.

Rebecca Bornstein is a poet and worker currently living in Portland, Oregon. She’s held jobs as a production cook, parking garage company receptionist, professional goat sitter, barista, and creative writing instructor, and her poetry has appeared in the Raleigh Review, The Journal, The Baltimore Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Visit her website at rebeccabornstein.com

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