An Empty Time Job

by Maryam Asfari

My jaw hurts. I cannot stop smiling.

The camera is hovering. Coming in on me while I wish

I wish I would die so I could rest my feet

It’s only been three hours…

The movements have become


Somebody oil my gears, please

Before this smile rusts

And I can’t feel again;

My teeth will be permanently revealed.


I know they’re watching.

The security camera looms

And there’s a face on the other side,

Making sure I do what is demanded of me.

Checking on me. Ensuring their money is saved.

Now there is nothing but smiles

And repeated lines. There are bright eyes

That can’t be paid for. There is an “I’m Very Sorry About That”

For every harsh word out of my control.


The bustle has died down, now there is just me.

I am standing alone smiling to myself.

The darkness has set in but the smile won’t break.

It has begun to freeze and no warmth can save my face.

A Full Time Job. That’s what it takes to survive, they tell me.

To Pay Your Rent and to Eat.

When I slip off my black shoes I am done for.

The wind has successfully been knocked out of me.

On yet another day I have lost.