D.A. Powell

Picking Prunes and The Majestic Theatre
March 30, 2024 Powell D.A.

Picking Prunes  


From the ground up is how you rise              
in this dustbowl cornucopia corps 
which is to say, if you lug enough lugs              
of dirty plums                                    
scraped up out of the crud                                             
at the base
of these inverted pyramid shaped trees, 
you might, just might, get to work              
the trays of the drying racks, 
sliding the dessicated elongated globules              
out of the shake roof shed                              
where they’re spread
to evaporate their moisture in the               
slow intense heat (the prunes,                              
not the workers,
though we too lost volume as the valley              
warmed like a flat clay oven) 
and you could have all the prunes you               
could eat in that heat                              
which meant shits
for days and pay in pennies on the pound; 
your back might break, you might even              
faint, but it was money, black                               
gold, soft turds and
living high off the fructified hog—              
how far can you spit that pit.



The Majestic Theatre


Raiders of the Lost Ark on screen number 3, The Empire
Strikes Back
in the main screening room and Cannonball Run
2 on screen number 2, any of which I could see free. Plus
popcorn if I brought my own bag, and sodas if I brought my
own cup. $3.35 an hour and all I had to do was tear tickets,
kill roaches if they ran across the lobby, sweep, kick Mr.
Fidget out when he took out his weenus, inventory the hot
dogs, the buns, the cups, the lids, the bags of prepopped pop
corn, the bags, the butter, the whoppers, the junior mints,
restock, close up, and open the emergency doors when the
air conditioner broke, which happened all summer, while
the same three films played 4 times a day, 5 on the weekends.
The midnight feature was 18 and over, softcore and mostly
couples, by which I mean men with women or women with
men. My uniform was a tie and a badge with a name on it.
Not even mine. A character from Crime and Punishment. I
wasn’t stupid. I got cruised by a Russian man and an English
teacher. Possibly others; I wasn’t always paying attention.
Gave notice and got fired in the same week, as one did when
the school year started. No hard feelings. That’s show biz.

D. A. Powell‘s books include Repast and Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys. Powell’s honors include support from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2019 John Updike Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. He is a Professor in the Writing Program at University of San Francisco.