The Nutseller

Igor Sweeney looked you square in the Adam’s Apple if you were one of his underlings.
But when he was ready to sell, he could make Wilt Chamberlain feel like a shrimp.

For seven months and one day, I observed Sweeney – Iggstoke to his friends –
and wondered how, with such a repressed and rotating cast of staff,
he maintained his exemplary self-regard for his publishing exploits.

Did he not keep his over-worked and over-scrutinized editorial staff
on compulsory overtime to send out zip-code ordered issues of the magazine
that would arrive, gratis and unbidden, to the reception desks of
Fortune 500 companies across the city?

Was he not incapable of working diligently with said staff without,
when asked a mundane question, bellowing,
“I’m trying to concentrate here!”

My first week, I knew my days were numbered.

He was patron to none but himself.
The mag, a sham for deals over which even his comptroller raised an eyebrow,
called itself the soul of the city.
Dead souls, maybe, you thought as you walked into the gulag of dislodged journalists.

His wife, a shrew whose younger visage – as well as Igor’s – graced the first page of every issue,
had a Girl Scout’s expertise in office espionage; this I gleaned when a chance Email
between myself and my equally incredulous editor
received a reply in a dialogue in which she’d not been copied, or blind-copied.

Were we in an Inc? Or an Ingsoc?

I marveled, to lesser degree, as I neared completion of the real reason
for my being hired: to clean the online archives of the star columnist,
whose indifference to fact checking was equaled to his poor grasp of grammar.
Months of conservative cackling had I cleaned under Sweeney’s hawk accounting.

One day after my completion, I received my reward:
A summons to the editorial board room, where sat Sweeney and my
poor Horatio editor, now powerless to all but his own leave-taking.
I sat, knowing what to expect.

“Mel – ”
And, then, I couldn’t help myself. I started laughing.
Every time, he began his Mr. Cleaver pretense, I laughed harder.
He couldn’t even fire me without my rattling his concentration.
Then, under his breath, I heard, “This girl is nuts.”

Prompt 14: (Ersatz Emily) In the catalogue

they’re all holding,
or standing near,
a glass or decanter of wine,
and wearing the clothes
I fluff, fold and space
on a daily basis.

Oh, ETFs! (Evil-to-folds),
How much consternation you bring.
My Goodfellow associate glides by,
a silk quilt over her shoulder
like a freshly killed pelt.

Shunted to the front
to greet
and be ignored
by women
with TOO MUCH money
and not enough
I glower at the passersby
playing Poke-Go,
unaware of their slavery
to everything
except the pleasure
of being young.

Glory, Poorly

Cows mooed as I held your trembling torso
through the seizures.
Your eyes reflected the moon when you came to;
I startled at my first womanly moment.
I knew I wanted to lay down, and stroke you breastbone to navel.

My fumbling reinforced your recovery.
You wouldn’t let me be late.
That was your excuse.
I didn’t have the emotional vocabulary to truck with your banter,
or you would have been my first
instead of, years later, a man who didn’t know
what he was taking
under the canopy.

Our breath fogged in front of us
as we jogged back to your beat-up jeep
and rolled past the lake,
at once,
austere and serene.
You made me laugh, all the way home
but I felt your panic.

The porch light was on,
and you reached past me
to open my door.

An Extra’s Life

You know who I am.

I see it in your face.

Yes, I shop at the grocery store
just like “regular folk,”
and I’ll fill my own gas tank, too,
if you want to watch.

Bring your camera.

Did I attend Cannes?

No, but, I sent a cast of my ass,
which is the only part of me
that makes it into most of my movies.

Yes, my. If a woman with a six-figure salary can claim
my ass is hers,
then I can claim her star vehicle is my movie.

Did we get along?
What is this?
I never met the, excuse me, talent.

I was usually ushered in to film
the scene her contract stipulated
she wouldn’t do.

Fame or no,
I got to stipulate
that inessential crew were barred
during my body cameo.

Pissed her off, I heard.

I make a good living, thank you.
That torso in the Tom Ford promo?

You bet it’s not Miss-The-World-Loves-Me.

If you’ll excuse me,
I’ve got a yoga cycle class.

Prompt 11: Intersection Folkie

I remembered a photo I took of this woman and put on Instagram, but I deleted the original shot. Please view the link, if possible, because her image inspired my following this prompt.

If there’s sun, I’m playing.

Doesn’t matter where. I go where I know I can get some bread.

Today it might be an intersection.
Tomorrow, it might be some bar.
You’ve never heard of half the places I’ve played.
And, you probably wouldn’t want to.

My girlfriend hangs tough, man.
She knew what she was getting herself into, believe me.
I’ve had it rough, but she’s had it rougher.

Some guys come up to her, ask her if
she’s getting what she needs, you know.
All macho put-on.
I quickly step in.
“Yes sir, and are you here to listen or to mess with someone?
Because if it’s the latter, we will have a talk.”

She’s had it rough, but I’ll make it rougher
for the person who tries to hurt her.

We’re in this part of town as long as it takes.
Where are we going?
Where aren’t we going?

I’m not a Kansas fan, but, sometimes,
“Dust in the Wind” sounds like it fits.

I’ll go wherever.
I’ll play wherever.

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