On days like yesterday when the pollutionologists forecast
a Level 4 or Level 5, hard to find his house,
let alone a 10 x 10-inch plastic dog door,
the tie-dyed smog as high as those trees & today’s only Level 2,
he can make out the Karlsson’s neo-Tudor Colonial & the stone statue
of a Labrador retriever w/ the mailbox in its mouth, a rattling
of the holly bush near the rhododendron that didn’t survive
last winter’s unseasonably seasonal double feature winter &
he should try this more often—heading into the office late
to avoid gladiatorial traffic, though it’s tough living w/ killers &
they’re tag teaming, cats Bonnie & Clyde. Clack clack goes the dog gate…
the walnut of the brain, pistachio of a green spleen,
almond of a stomach, left on the porch separated & clean,
like those anatomical posters in grade school,
“The Nervous System,” “The Digestive System,” “Circulation,”
using the outline of his desk mate Karen or Kevin's body.
Peel off the tape holding parts of the short story
in couplets. See also Paul Hoover, The Novel,
a book of poems about writing a novel: “Thus the novel began,
twenty / angels blue and over because / of what they do for a living.”
See also Michelangelo, i.e.: “Atlas Slave,” “Dying Slave,”
“Rebellious Slave,” known as the “Prisoners.”
Non-finito as a working practice. –prewriting, unchiseled
-or first chiseling left in final draft.
17,500-40,000 words is the industry standard for a novella
on the auction block. In a rush of plot….
Our main character seems to have lost his youngish wife,
it’s suggested to opioids, not COVID,
“It’s about Tim,” his mentee is saying as the wheat grass shots arrive.
Her shoulder pads are armor. [For the first time, he has his doubts
Tim has torpedoed her / stole her idea / her promotion is D.O.A.
could he step in and do something?
///// In the fable of The Scorpion and the Monk,
an early rendition of office //// politics,
the monk who carries the scorpion across a lake
is stung in the middle of the body of water
causing the dying monk to ask, Why? & the drowning scorpion
replies it’s his dharma, as it’s the monk’s dharma to help
even when against his own interests. Go ahead, take that spot.
He finds another in the mid-level employee lot
narrowly avoiding the lotus planter. On the wall screen,
in the Pagoda Meeting Room, the junior associate, Newark office,
braces for impact, but CEO Sir Stephen pads barefoot
across the bamboo floor in his mood changing suit
to rescue a stink bug, hands the catering napkin
to VP of Genre Affairs, the glass doors part,
“Escort the visitor outdoors.”
No such thing as the lowly, no such thing as the untouchable
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Copyright © Nov 2023 Alexandria Peary
Alexandria Peary serves as New Hampshire Poet Laureate and is the author of nine books, most recently, Battle of Silicon Valley at Daybreak. Her work has received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship, the Slope Editions Book Prize, and the Iowa Poetry Prize. Her poems have recently appeared in New American Writing, Barrow Street, and the North American Review, and Consequence is publishing her "Pforzheim Quartet" as a series; the first installment, with video and audio, is available at the magazine webpage.