corporate ladder

“don’t worry about your place
on the corporate ladder,
there’s always some fucker
down there, two rungs below
…rubbing two sticks together
– trying to start the fire
to burn you down”

or so says Gus, the new bartender
at the Los Lobos Bar,
but what does he know (I tell myself)
damned bartenders
and their sage words,
all of ‘em
trying to sound like they
know things the rest of us don’t
trying to act like they
have done it all about two
weeks before the rest of us

…they think they’re a sounding board
for the desperate
and they think that we have no place
left to go

Gus asks if I want one more
before he gets busy
with the lunch crowd
but I wave him off
saying I have to get
back to
the office.

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reflections on a reduction in force, circa. 1996

you think
when you have a job
to go to…
…one that
requires that you
wear a necktie
and appear in
meetings with
corporate clones
as well as,
note-taking
corporate drones
and debilitated
veterans of
countless takeovers
…you think
to yourself
that it will last
for as long as you want
…a charade can last forever
and
you believe in your heart
…sincerely…
that the
goodwill pump
in your chest
will beat on
…ad infinitum
and after that,
you say
to anyone who will listen:
“sometime
around the year
two thousand seventy seven
I’ll abandon this madness
for my
ranch out west”

where you’ll
drink a lot
until late at night
every night
like you always have
and you’ll tell war stories
in the only bar in town
to half a dozen
late night
well-heeled patrons
and you’ll
paint
that barn in
the South Pasture
blood red
and write poems
and read Proust
and raise
Siberian Huskies

….and…
when daylight wanes
you’ll learn to love
the sunrise
and you’ll fly that
damned helicopter

and you’ll
go to the Calgary Stampede
one last time
and you’ll tinker with
that old Case baler
out in the shed
every night
after supper
until your fingers
get blue and numb
in the February cold
and then
one night
when you are drunk enough
you’ll pull out that laptop
computer
the one that
you’ve kept locked away
in the safe behind the stairs
packed away with your
forty five
…and you’ll look for him
the one that you ‘furloughed’
in 1996 (or thereabouts) to
see if he ever,
…regained his corporate footing
or remarried
or found his lost child
but ultimately to find out
…if he has
in some way
caught up with you
because
you know if you don’t
do it now
…in the end,
you’ll do it
eventually
on your back
looking up at the
sky