Douglas Cole, 10/2/2017

Current Occupation: Poet, Writer, Teacher, Stage Hand/Roadie
Former Occupation: Construction Worker, Waiter, Caterer, Driver, Cook, Staff Manager of a Middle School, Painter, 
Contact Information: Douglas Cole has published four collections of poetry. His work appears in journals such as The Chicago Quarterly Review, Chiron, The Galway Review, The Pinyon Review, Solstice, Eastern Iowa Review, Kentucky Review, Wisconsin Review, and Slipstream. He has been nominated for a Pushcart and Best of the Net, and has received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry; the Best of Poetry Award from Clapboard House; First Prize in the “Picture Worth 500 Words” from Tattoo Highway. His website is


Calling in Sick

I stole Friday from the grinding work beast 
and I went to the gym and read and slept
but still I felt those hours I’d already sold
and the existing contract sucking my soul
as though even slick and sly and careful
you can’t slip away and trick the machine 
its hooks deep electric down in us all 
and I have this image of petty low-level 
bureaucratic clerks on their detectors 
extracting the exact energetic equivalent 
of those pre-sold chunks of my life 
as I grip in trying to yank them back.


My first job was Disabled Student Services
at a little college where I drove disabled students 
back and forth to class in this little golf cart
I might make a run every other hour or so
but the rest of the time I just sat around
playing chess with a woman with flipper arms
a birth defect and she had a crush on me
she only came around during my shifts
well a couple of years and cities later I saw her 
and we both acted like we didn’t know each other 
though you don’t see a lot of people with flipper arms
but seeing her reminded me of something 
my boss Chauncey told me when I started work
it’s not important that you be busy but you look busy 
and that’s the best advice I ever got about jobs

The Great Equalizer

I’m calling this Good Friday
paying off the last bill I’m left broke 
absolutely stripped and lined up for overtime
sitting in a meeting with a bow-tie fool
and his charts and graphs on how times are tough
underlying meaning is you’re lucky to have a job
so shut up and take what little pay you get
smug type-A fucker going home to his partner
a glass of wine television sexy time and sleep
up before the rest of us making a new agenda
corporate cog machine drone boring and loud
death’s little helper hand holding us down 
the gangplank into the grave saying think again
oh think again as sad lost confused ones pray
but death’s coming to wipe his slate clean too
little stooge man think again mouth wide open 
eyes wide open with surprise as he’s swept 
into the empty hole with the rest of us
falling flailing bowtie fluttering
burned of all that petty triumph he falls
babbling incoherent right back into the cradle
arms waving mind blazing new understanding
I’m here he says though no one understands
groping helpless he cries out I’m here I’m here

2 comments on “Douglas Cole, 10/2/2017
  1. Joan McNerney says:

    I was also advised to look busy at work. Also when I did free lance work, I was advised to say that when I was off, I painted the wall or did some grimy task to ward off any jealousy.

  2. David Criner says:

    I saw your work in Woven Tale Press. Your poetry speaks to me, and I’m someone who has never liked poetry.

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