Goddammit, you were important to me, for what it's worth.
The New Idea
From a third floor window I spray a sad look
down into the courtyard of the office park
filled with cold pebbles and benches.
There are little donuts for sale in the breakroom
vending machine called gems or donettes
or gemettes, I can't remember,
and I'd rather not retrace the string of decisions
that have left me stupefied before an inspirational
poster that claims "The First Word in Can't is Can."
Due to its dense history of uncomfortable moments,
our elevator is haunted with poorly conceived smiles
and sinking hearts, so I take the stairs
to the boardroom and pass a mailroom clerk
with reggae leaking out his walkman
and a crumpled secretary who,
as the cruel office rumor goes,
keeps a thermos on her desk filled
with the ashes of her dead bulldog.
It would be difficult to admit that no one
ushered me as a blip onto this cold grid.
no one asked me to design my life
to fit the dimensions of this situation,
stranded in an office whose walls
are strange mathematical mountains,
so out of touch with my own body
that I watch my handwriting appear on a legal pad
like rainspots on a sidewalk.
I was in high school
when I realized that not doing anything
was categorically different from deciding to do nothing,
but beauty blew a fuse, the hold music put me in a trance,
and what was black and heading towards me
transported me here like a cow in a comic hurricane.
Our CEO is in Asia and the staff has gathered
in the boardroom for his televised conference call.
An inter-office newsletter is passed around
by a clerk I once caught pressing warm xerox copies
to his face and who later tried to shake my hand
in the men's room. "The universe, she is a bitch,"
he said, and I liked him for not knowing that men
characteristically shut down in restrooms.
I suppose it's difficult to work with people
who are comfortable inside of nightmares,
though even the numbest of us are intimidated
by the unnatural bulk of "his" life story
by "his" portrait hanging on the east wall,
glowing with rush hour romance, hair groomed
into place by the soft breezes of annuity,
in this room where many times I have seen the world
end in a vice-president's inadvertent comment and
suddenly start up again with a slight retraction.
I shake a few hands,
never precisely sure when to let go,
and the monitor flickers on, revealing the Chairman
wearing a white robe, sleeping in a Chinese stream
with a single chrysanthemum tucked behind his ear.
His arms are like slackened chain
in the puttering current.
Our pens hover over the legal pads.
We are to understand something by this,
a Providence engineered to go void at five,
glassed over by the fantastic qualities of gin,
cast as we are into this underimagined place.