Current Occupation: English Professor

Former Occupation: Furniture Delivery

Contact Information: Jared Pearce's collection, The Annotated Murder of One (2018) is available from Aubade. Some of his poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Xavier Review, Panoplyzine, Cacti Fur, Fleas on the Dog, and BlazeVOX. Further: https://jaredpearcepoetry.weebly.com.

 

#

Don’t let me down

 

    1

A new vision, it’s true,

can be climbed to at

the ladder’s top,

 

but it also shows what

everyone knows: if

you fall, you die.

 

    2

The rungs trembled

and bucked as I went up,

the rails dipped

 

and rose though 

the locks bit in: 

unafraid, it’s nice

 

to return again to 

the paint-splattered 

earth, like it wants me.

 

    3

I locked the extenders

after putting the ladder

under the roof’s peak,

 

atop the first-level roof.

I climbed above the sheer

drop to my right, clung

 

with my left to the burning

asphalt, and froze.

Dad’s voice seemed

 

to still to me: Don’t worry,

boy, do the job. There

was a breeze; I lunged

 

with my brush to cover

as much as I could reach,

determined after Dad’s breach.

 

 

#

E-Sports

 

The glories of the pixel gridiron,

the ulnar collateral pop and ping,

the deft glance, the precision

crosshairs, we must have you

save our university.

 

Our data spreads mean a little bread

yeasts our way if they come play.

 

The recalibrated bandwidth

opened like angioplasty, pro dreams

swamping us like swollen revenue

streams, pressures beating as we

watch the teams on screen.

 

We want them to spend

their money here, rather than elsewhere.

 

#

Prairie Restoration

 

The ice was supposed to

help, but it slipped below

us and let the seeds, sprayed

from the broadcaster, slide.

 

We didn’t see much

sign of deer or bird, and lay

our hopes in the graying

world, waiting for another storm

 

to blanket down and warm

life into growth. A farmer

came by to say he’d never seen frost

seeding, and took a picture.

 

We trudged the hill to prep tomorrow,

stash our gear and tuck

the sacks for the north acre. We can see,

in our minds, how it could be.

 

 

Current occupation: Reporter

Former occupations: Soldier, janitor

Contact Information: Joseph S. Pete is an award-winning journalist, an Iraq War veteran, an Indiana University graduate, a book reviewer, a frequent guest on Lakeshore Public Radio, and the author of the forthcoming books "Lost Hammond, Indiana" and "100 Things To Do in Gary and Northwest Indiana Before You Die." He was named the poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest, a feat that Geoffrey Chaucer chump never accomplished. His literary work and photography have appeared in As You WereO-Dark-ThirtyThe Grief DiariesGravelSynesthesia Literary JournalChicago LiteratiDogzplotshufPoetryThe Roaring MusePrairie WindsBlue Collar ReviewLumpenStoneboatThe Tipton Poetry JournalEuphemism, and elsewhere. Like Bartleby, he would prefer not to.

 

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Region

 

A Region tattered but tough, 

rusting but resilient,

soldiers on every workaday day.

 

The stalwart clock-puncher in a fading 

Union Proud T-shirt always shows up on time

as those raging blast furnaces burn eternally

against that endless churning lakefront.

 

Refinery effluvium and open hearth miasma

sometimes yield to redolent ethic aromas 

escaping through open windows:

cevapi, halupki, ciorba, mici, menudo.

 

Baking hot asphalt and chain basketball nets

dominate the landscape of brick and grit and grime,

hastily slapped-up tags and plexiglass barriers.

 

Century-old mason-mortared buildings succumb 

to the inevitable rot of time’s relentless onslaught.

Plywood boards occlude gaping gaps

as neighborhood property values plunge.

 

Lots sit vacant and weed-ridden, 

but even on the most barren patch of urban frontier

a wild prairie flower can bloom brightly.

 

 

Current Occupation: Independent consultant and writer

Former Occupation: Consultant

Contact Information: Tom is a poet and independent business advisor living in San Francisco. He spent 32 years as a human resource consultant for a global consulting organization. He has written three business books and many serious articles and now writes sardonic verse, much of it commenting on business practices he observed (and helped create) and on social phenomena that amuse and bemuse him. You can read his writings (verse and other) at http://www.worklodes.com. Procure a copy of these and other poems Spring 2020 in his collection, “Get the Hell to Work,” to be published by Kelsay Books.

 

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Stress


 

You’re feeling stress today, I sense

Your brow is knit, your posture tense

Did I just hear you whine a bit?

I urge you to get over it

 

We all have tasks that must be done

We work, you know, from sun to sun

Just like an old-time farmer’s wife

Our life’s our work, our work’s our life

 

The workload’s grown a lot, that’s true

Could that be what’s oppressing you?

Demands are high, the time is tight

Perhaps that keeps you up at night

 

I heard your spouse is leaving too

Your monthly mortgage payment’s due

Your car may soon be repossessed

It’s no surprise that you are stressed

 

These strains, I’m sure, could make you ill

You might just need to take a pill

Prozac? Xanax? or Tylenol?

That’s just a few – you know them all

 

Or you might have a heart attack

And if you did, would you come back?

Or would it lead to your demise?

For, as we know, everyone dies

 

If you should die, for heaven’s sake

I promise I’ll attend your wake

Unless it comes at our month end

You know how busy we are then






#

Traffic


 

Today is the meeting, the biggest all year

I’ll need 40 minutes to get there from here

The GPS gives me this very good news

It starts in an hour, and so I can cruise

I’ll stop for donut, my favorite nosh

I’ve plenty of time to arrive with panache

 

Drive out of the driveway, right, left, and then straight

I’ve truckloads of time, so no way I’ll be late

Swing wide toward the on ramp, that curvy asphalt

And that’s when all progress just grinds to a halt 

Ahead, endless rows of inert metal blocks  

Not moving at all, they’re like so many rocks

 

Each one is adorned with two glowing red lights

Electric tomatoes, one left and one right

They stretch on forever, and yet they don’t budge

They’d been there for hours, if I were to judge

And meanwhile the clock’s hands are spinning with glee
To mock me, they’re saying, “You’ll never break free.”  

 

But then a solution takes shape in my brain

A way that perhaps I can lessen the strain

The car pool lane beckons me, just to my left

A black flowing river, of traffic bereft

The imp on my shoulder says, “Do it, who’ll know?”

My conscience? I dropped that off six miles ago

 

Check mirror and signal, cross over the stripe

I’m nervous for sure, not the law-breaking type

At 75 I can get there in time

And with any luck I won’t pay for my crime

But what’s in my mirror? One more blinking light

Pull over, it tells me, it’s red and it’s bright

 

I come to a halt, I’m resigned to my fate

At least now I have an excuse to be late




#

Cooking the Books


 

The culinary arts, his specialty

Transforming sour results to taste more sweet

While skillfully avoiding penalties

The master of the dubious spreadsheet

 

He mixed the apples with the orange fruit

Confusing those whose prying eyes spied in

No cause could they devise to prosecute

For never did he spill a single bean

 

Sautés and stews and casseroles his range   

A million ways to fricassee the books

Protecting value on the stock exchange 

More skilled by far than other crooked cooks

 

And once a year he’d throw a grand soiree

His April 15th greenback barbecue

The menu ran from salad to sorbet

Not present there? Internal Revenue

 

For he must forestall paying our tax claims

Those levies he cannot fail to defray

Else profits will all disappear in flames

The books won’t be cooked – they will be flambé-ed