Friday, January 4, 2008


...There are a lot more just like me
Holding the whole damn world together,
Day by day, week by week.

Turn to your neighbor;
Look in her face.
You can read it in her eyes:
We all are common women,
As common as bread,
And will rise, will rise.
—Mary Beth Elliot/Joan Simcoe’s song “Common Woman”

From the Archives (March 2006) This afternoon, we held a reception for an employee who retires next week. Our fearless leader applauded her “quiet contribution” (at the rate of $26,000 annually after 30 years of service), praised her diligence and attention to detail, then presented her with a gift certificate to a big-box office supply store before we partook of reception fare together.

I’m glad we honored her publicly, glad she retired with full benefits after dedicating so many years of her life to this place, but couldn’t help but remind myself that this same fearless leader told me to get rid of her just four years ago.

(I’m cocky, so replied Why don’t you tell me how much money you need instead [big boy] and let me find it for you?)

So perhaps readers will understand why the edges of my parched lips curled into an uncontrollable snarl when Fearless Leader shook the hand of a woman who will retire having no idea how hard I had to work to save her position and benefits just a few short years ago.

Everybody knows that the deal is rotten. Old Black Joe’s still picking cotton for your ribbons and bows. Everybody knows.

What’s that Percy Bysshe Shelley line:

The cultivation of poetry is never more to be desired than at periods when, from an excess of the selfish and calculating principle, the accumulation of the materials of external life exceed the quantity of the power of assimilating them to the internal laws of human nature

Today I need some poetry so, okay, I’ll end with a poem:


I’m not going to cry all the time
nor shall I laugh all the time,
I don’t prefer one “strain” to another.
I’d have the immediacy of a bad movie,
not just a sleeper, but also the big,
overproduced first-run kind. I want to be
at least as alive as the vulgar.
(...) and my heart—
you can’t plan on the heart, but
the better part of it, my poetry, is open.
—Frank O’Hara

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