POEM FOR A BUSINESSMAN (ME)
Sympathy, to begin with, is a problem.
The hotels are okay and there’s free soap
to smuggle home. Lunches are not lavish
but good food mothers want their sons to eat.
There’s pay. And hours. Vacations follow
seasons like soldiers in obedient
retreat. Plus the silent love of men
waiting for their bags at whirring airport
carousels. Someone says that stewardi
are hardly what they used to be. What is?
Sex is sex and politics, and speed has killed
the shoeshine boys. Eat fast or be eaten.
Being on hold is what hurts. Life stops
and static fills: fiber optic calls
so still my empty neurons firing echo.
For this fiscal my thinking is bearish
the man says. Projections get fired
like rockets or people. A real bear, I think,
would empty that office pretty quick, but
loading docks full of debt are fear enough.
First-in, first-out: FIFO. Last-in, first-out:
LIFO. Inventories stand in place like slaves
until they’re laid, casually, by demand.
While I hold the line, spreadsheets wink at me.
Between the gates of night, domestic flights
from wives and kids I never had run counter
to the clock and land at lots of rental cars.
When I hit the lights, the windshield wipers
mock me. The parking brake unlocks the trunk.
A map displays my ignorance. Buying
everything in sight would solve some problems.
Jail would be a new one. Under rumbles
of descending jets the car-lot sentry
dances inside headphones. He checks my contract,
makes his mark and, smiling, hands it back.
The bottom line can’t be read but shows my name.