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The Journey to the West

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

From the Desk of the General Counsel

On the working lives
Of great American poets
And those lesser well known
Who have sought place for words
Amidst the desktop clutter
Paying enough but
Only so much regard
Lured by the brass ring
But not without misgivings
We strayed and stayed
Then sold our birthright
For the monotonous plenty
Of corporate living
Surrendering our
Unfettered freedoms
For more nuanced rights
Of commercial free speech

How much better would
Our poems have been if we
Weren’t already primed
By professional training
Or otherwise so inclined
To wander in this endless
Thicket of qualifying phrases
Nor so prone to the pretense
That hidden meaning would
Better adhere to our words
Like burrs if we could but
Free ourselves from conventions
Of plain English speaking

Oh sisters and brothers
How we labored on
In the dismal vineyard
Captive and anxious making
Headway through the ranks
Ascending to vice presidency
All without giving vent
To inkling of doubt
In metered verse about
The whys and wherefores
Of our miserable day jobs
Through which we drank
And whored and pined
For a fiction more supreme
On the slopes at Vail
Or amidst the Florida pines
Whether we swung
Straight down the fairway
Or drunkenly at Hemingway
In dark mood or sublime

And who knows better
The Snowman’s curse
Than each and every one of us
Who has been bored
For the same long time
By the nothing that is
And always shall remain
In the fine print
Of the actuarial table
Or footnoted brief
Where it says
With irony unintended
That imagination starved
Will long out-endure
Consciousness stuffed
And overawed

But while I too have
Battled tedium and
Given imagination free rein
Always subject to email
And telephone
I have learned
To make the most
Of what comes
Ready to hand

Thus not so much
Of miracles at Key West
Am I singing as of the
Ever refreshing mess
On my desktop and the
Plain simple benefit
Of attaining
A decent living in such
Uncertain times

And even though
No poem of mine
Has ever
Brought food to table
It may have sustained me
All the same even without
Benefit of critical acclaim

For having pursued truth
Daily in verse to the
Same strict standard
With which I have prepared
My annual tax returns
Claiming deductions
Wherever I can
But always signed
Under penalty
Of perjury

To find your voice
First you must have
Lost your way
But once found
There’s no reason
To stay in the forest
Forever without
First obtaining
Ample provisions

Armed with this
Intelligence the
General Counsel
Sits at his desk
In Buddha like
Contemplation of
His happy belly
And ponders the merits
Of early retirement

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