Click here to listen to Jeffrey Skinner read this poem.
I’ve always had trouble with the boss, even when I was self-employed.
Why do I have to sit there for eight hours when I can finish the day’s
work in fifty-seven minutes? And there was a flaw on the face
of the office clock, a flyspeck or mole between five and six
where the eye went naturally, as if to the corner of an otherwise
impeccable woman’s lips. I kissed that flaw in my mind, over and over,
because I had nothing else to do. The idea of work is fine, but
must we put every idea into practice? The trees, which I sometimes
catch waving to me, seem content in every weather, as if they
were continuously employed actors, and when the script calls for caress
the willow bends and draws its leaves delicately across the grass;
if violence, the oak twists and snaps, the palm leans back its heavy head
in the storm, frond-hair whipping madly. On the other hand, trees
are never permitted to leave the office. I have been working so long
I forget sometimes what job I’m doing, and instead of teaching
grab my students by the belt and collar and stack them floor to ceiling,
thinking I am back at my cement factory job. What’s amazing
is how little they complain, and my evaluations come out nearly identical
to those times I actually teach something. Perhaps in the end all work
Kansas at 3 a.m., a glowing tube full of dreaming passengers.