My daughter drops her bag at the door,
kicks one shoe into the kitchen,
the other into the back door screen and collapses
on the couch as though pushed
and before I can protest Rachel Maddow’s face is replaced
by the face of a celebrity I’m too old to recognize.

My daughter complains about the second day
of her new job at the restaurant, how people are disgusting
and leave messes behind them as if the world
is here to pick up after them, as if earning less
than three dollars an hour and whatever tips they leave
means she should thank them for making their table a toilet.

She sounds like Thoreau without the rich friends
as she laments how unjust society is, that some are born
into labor. If we didn’t need money we wouldn’t have to work
at all, she says, as if capitalism is my fault,
the free market my design. You don’t understand,
she says, what it’s like to stand on your feet all day
as though I was born into money
and parenting isn’t a perpetual service industry.

When I tell her she sounds pretentious
she says that’s because I’m better than you.

Brad Johnson’s full-length poetry collection The Happiness Theory (Main Street, 2013) is available at Work of his has also been accepted by Hayden’s Ferry Review, J Journal, New Madrid, Meridian, Poet Lore, Salamander, Southern Indiana Review, Tampa Review, Tar River Poetry and others