Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Overread at Table 4: Proximity by Randall Mann

Out of the fog comes a little white bus.
It ferries us south to the technical mouth
of the bay. This is biopharma, Double Helix Way.

In the gleaming canteen, mugs have been
dutifully stacked for our dismantling,
a form of punishment.

Executives take the same elevator as I.
This one's chatty, that one's gravely engrossed
in his cloud. Proximity measures shame.

I manage in an office, but an office
that faces a hallway, not the bay. One day
I hope to see the bay that way. It all began

in the open, a cubicle--there's movement.
My door is always open, even when I shut it.
I sit seven boxes below the CEO

on the org chart. It's an art, the value-add,
the compound noun. Calendar is a verb.
To your point, the kindest prepositional phrase.

Leafy trees grow a short walk from Building 5.
Take a walk. It might be nice to lie and watch the smoky
marrow rise and fall, and rise. Don't shut your eyes. 
Copyright © 2013 by Randall Mann. Used with permission of the author. (ACTUALLY, poets.org used it with permission . . . Niall Carter is just showing it to Isabel Bickerstaff on his iPad while they have a quick breakfast over two mocha latt├ęs)


About This Poem
"I have been thinking a lot about the machinery of work--commute, hierarchy, vernacular, etc.--and wanted to integrate my often conflicting ideas about it into a poem. This poem is about several of my jobs, and, in a sense, none of them." 
--Randall Mann


Niall Carter looks at Isabel Bickerstaff and says, "I read this poem and said, 'My God!  What have we all become?!"

And she, perusing the lines a second time, says (slightly tremulously), "You're right.   I so wanna quit my frikkin job now."

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