John Grey, 9/25/2017

Current Occupation: Retired
Previous Occupation:  Financial Systems Analyst
Contact Information: Australian born poet, US resident since late seventies. Worked as financial systems analyst. Recently published in Front Range Review, Chiron Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Midwest Quarterly, Convergence and Pulsar.

#

TOUGH JOB

The walls are slowly closing in on me.
It’s a race to see if they can beat 
the collapsing ceiling 
in a bid to crush me to pulp.
But, don’t worry, senior management.
I will not leave my cubicle.

I will brave the fire
and the lightning strikes.
And the guy you fired last week
who is now roaming the office
with a loaded machine gun.

Sure I have a deadly disease.
But no one here will catch it.
They’re already dead.
And the copy tastes like poison.
It is poison.
But slow-acting enough 
to allow me time to finish this report
and have it on your desk by five.

I will crawl on hands and knees if I have to,
dodging bullets and the whirring blades
of the helicopter that just plunged into the roof.
I have a contract.
You are paying me to fulfill it.
Nothing will stop me.
Not even acts of the one who, unlike you,
is a god who goes by the name of God.

I am a worker.
I have a duty to perform.
Even if it kills me.
Even if it lets me live
to work another day,
that state of gratitude and grind
not be confused with living.

 

#

WHEN IT FINALLY LETS GO

Home from the job
but hauling it with me.
Through the front door
of my house
but never quite out of
the towering factory gates.
Slumped in the couch
but body still working the assembly line.
Silent and clear
like a brief pause in
deafening and dusty
Eating my meal
like a cold sandwich
gulped down
in a grimy lunch room.
Watching TV
like I'm chained to the screen.
But then lying in bed
and feeling
the business flow out of me.
A kiss from my wife,
the first complement all day.

#

WEEKEND

The work week is almost over.

Friday night,
once a place
beyond the horizon
is a mere mile or so
from the parking lot.

Saturday,
kept in chains for days,
welcomes the turnkey
to undo all its locks.

Even Sunday,
that kind and indulgent
hangover healer,
may be invisible now
but it's somewhere close
and at the ready.

The clock moves ever so slowly
toward the five.
If that machinery were us,
it'd be there already.

But the grinding gears
are on notice.
They've been found out.
They are not a fundamental of our lives.

We're ready to go native,
crazy, wild, semi-dangerous
whatever it takes to fit into
our joyous selves.

There's so little freedom in the world.
The weekend may not even be it.
But it gives a brilliant imitation of heaven.
Almost as good as Monday does hell.
 

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