Current Occupation: Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor
Former Occupation: Free-lance writer
Contact Information: Marc Swan lives in Portland, Maine, a working seaport with a thriving arts community. He has new work coming out in Slipstream, Common Ground, Pearl and Owen Wister Review, WORK Literary Magazine, among others. Simple Distraction, a collection of his poems from 1989 to 2009, was published in fall 2009 by tall-lighthouse in London, England.
East to West
On the seemingly endless flight from east to west
coast I sit in a small aisle seat
purported to be roomy
on the web site next to two economy-sized Indians
of the Mumbai variety—
very pleasant folks indeed, but very large.
I set up my high-end noise reduction ear buds,
my wife’s Kindle Fire and get ready
for the smooth sounds
of Pandora when the pop up tells me 15 minutes free
the money clock starts rolling,
which is not what I imagined, but I’m so far
removed from this technology
I try to fathom on a daily basis it quickens
my heart. Undaunted
I plug in my high-end noise reduction ear buds
for a few blues riffs from Gary Moore
and then quickly hit the Amazon.com site
for a download of a Billy
Collins collection and a David Kirby collection.
On my 2nd one-click the free time line expires.
Feeling more confident I settle in for a quiet read
of the 1st poem in The Trouble with Poetry.
I’ve already read this book
No stress in my head and then I sit back and read
Kirby’s “Talking with Jesus about Movies”
front to back. He does have a natural style and home
boy feel that brings
me right into his living room:
he and Barbara drinking wine, revising poems,
setting the poem sequences right, sharing the space
and pages together.
My eyes close and I begin to nod off,
but I start thinking about why I’m on this endless flight.
I’m meeting with Googlers at the Googleplex,
a place I’ve never been and have very mixed
feelings about visiting. I’m on a mission to sell them a program
that they may not want
or need but a mission it is.
I imagine I’m Peter Graves receiving the message
and I self destruct
rather than the message as in that classic
opening scene in Mission Impossible.
I wonder about my Mumbai seatmates and the technology
they employ to master the ever-evolving aspects
of their daily techno lives.
What keys to techno nirvana does this large man snoring softly
on my left, head nodding back and forth against
my shoulder, bring into the life
of his rotund tea-drinking sari-clad mama with quite
beautiful large brown eyes.
Forecast—fair winds and following seas
It’s late July and August looms
like a wild cherry tree in Nagasaki.
I read the news, listen to the stories
the media spin, watch human beings
in a state of ongoing disrepair.
No one said life was an easy ride.
But no one told me some things would
be so far beyond my control
they would become barely visible
to a naked eye,
Sure it all seemed easier back then
when people smiled
and meant it
when they said how are you
have a nice day.
It wasn’t NO PROBLEM.
It was you are welcome.
And then I read, hear, get bombarded
by the movie house murders in Colorado,
suicide bomber in Damascus, another
round of headless bodies in Mexico…
the mind numbing 2012 election debacle.
And then there’s the corporate world
I inhabit where hundreds of worker bees
buzz around me looking for ways to close
rather than pay disability claims.
Sounds pedestrian when I write these
words and that in itself seems a loss.
I’m ready for Timbuktu. I do love
the sound of the kamale ngoni, the kora,
the zing of the Tuareg electric guitar,
but the fundamentalists
have arrived and altered the smooth
flow of the Niger delta. Maybe Oslo
or Helsinki or Copenhagen, but
winter arrives and stays and the days
mire in rain and mud and political
upheaval rises even in these once
unspoiled destinations. Perhaps
a slow boat ride to an ancient island
like Patmos where Robert Lax
lived his last thirty five
years far removed from the daily mind
fuck. A dream you say, we’ll just see
how far the big jib draws my friend.
Pinned and Forgotten
Suppose you are a carpenter,
a systems analyst or maybe
a doctor of medicine
and you get sick
or hit by a car or flip
at a hundred miles an hour.
Suppose your employer has long
term disability insurance
for just this kind
of thing and you think
well that part is settled.
You’ve never read the print,
small or otherwise,
that talks of pre-existing conditions
and limitations of coverage.
In most cases after 24 months
if you have any capacity to work
and there is a job remotely
related to your skills that exists
in your town that pays
sixty, fifty or sometimes forty
per cent of your pre-disability
your benefits end.
By then you’ve probably lost
your car, your house,
sometimes your spouse,
but the bills keep arriving
day after day.
In the parlance of the bottom line
you’ve become the donkey’s tail
at the corporate party.