EXTERIOR: OFFICE PARK MORNING
Sun rising over landscaped office park. Sprinklers
raise a mist in the golden light. The voice
of an old man:
I was manager of this office when I was
twenty-five. Hard to believe. Grandfather
was management. Father too. Me and him was
managers at the same time, him up in Peoria
and me down here. I think he was pretty proud
of that. I know I was.
We dissolve to another view of the park.
No people, or movement.
Some of the old-time managers never even
used out-sourced labor. A lot of folks
find that hard to believe.
We dissolve through differing views of cube farms
and interior office environs all empty, some
with the lights out.
I always liked to hear about the old-
timers. Never missed a chance to do so.
You can’t help but compare yourself against the
old timers. Can’t help but wonder how they
would’ve operated these times.
CLOSE-UP a RED Swingline stapler.
The kind of dimwitted slackers apply for work
today, it’s hard to even take its measure.
Camera pans up to reveal a chubby man sitting
at the desk: Milton Waddams.
MILTON is muttering under the Voice Over.
I always knew you had to be a complete bastard
to even do this job. But I don’t want to push my
chips forward and find I downsized the wrong
You could say it’s my job to destroy the souls of
these cube muppets but I don’t even want to know
what falls out when you tip the wrong HR jacket.
mutter mutter I’ll burn the place down is
what I’ll do.
(Written around 2012.)
The poem half belongs to the reader.
The poetry, the novel. Writers shepherd things into place, they are just words after all. The reader does half the lifting. But once they start gorging on films of literary origin, the teeth of the imagination begin to rot.
Consume the processed product of someone else’s imagination? Take the sirloin in pill form why don’t we. No gristle to pick from your teeth. Literature ignites the imagination, that’s what reading does. Watching a flickering screen, it is numbed. The imagination is anesthetized. But by all means, let Neflix make a Game of Thrones out of Garcia-Marquez, what could go wrong? Youth are remaking the world as we speak, it is not ours any more, us old farts. I worry about all the wrong things.
I have attitudes that mean nothing to anyone but me. They are like my children. I give them names and watch them grow up. Weep when they do poorly in school, or start stealing cars. It is a derangement I hold dear. One Hundred Years of Solitude will no doubt become the Breaking Bad of magical realism. It does not touch me. I have already built my own copy of that world.
Ever so slowly, I rise, and applaud.
every move precise
deeply ingrained, every how
but not a trace of why
he can remember everything
but who he is
identity is a mystery
for the trained assassin
and the shift worker
look at what they
made you give
this fell distant bit of light
owes everything to midnight
and where in darkness
did anyone with eyes
find in it a will to resist
Image: still from Days of Heaven by Terrence Malick
Children of Men (2006)
Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Michael Caine
hippie Michael Caine
Clive Owen with a hip flask
tries strawberry cough
world has gone to shit
immigrants are scapegoated
grimy dark future
humankind is infertile
an apt extinction
Matt Damon, Edward Norton, Gretchen Mol, #spoilers
a dodgy friendship
ensnared by his loyalties
missteps and hard knocks
an interest in law
interferes with his calling
this hold’em genius
Teddy’s cookie tells
that ace could not have helped him
he flops a nut straight
Song to Song (2017)
Terrence Malick | Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender
wandering in vast spaces
a face, in close-up
they speak, digress, turn corners
romance and friction
we breathe, movement and gesture
time, going sideways
Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston
good guy criminal
wheel man with a heart of gold
they messed with his gal
Remember the movie Idiocracy?
I think it’s happening.
the feeling hit me
when I turned on the news
an overweight bomb with
a stubby little fuse
this mess we created
will not be excused
so you answer me this
can you viral off blues?