A poem about a job

The July 18th prompt in The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice, by Kelli Russell Agodon & Martha Silano, is to “write a poem in everyday speech about a job you once had.” This is kind of a long one, covering the three years at the job I had in Tokyo with a very large corporation.

I remember scouting out the place
so I wouldn’t be late on the day
When I looked up at the twin buildings
I knew I was on my way

When I started the job
I was one of three
Within six months, though,
it was just me

(I was already experiencing
panic and stress—
though it really had little to do with the job
I must confess)

My colleague had this habit
of writing everything by hand
so they brought in a temp
to keep up with the demand

When he left, he sowed doubt
as to what I could do
so the temp he used stayed in place
“Please put her to use”

But I knew how to type
so I didn’t need an assistant
Still, they kept her coming
but I was resistant

And then they hired an outside guy
to do some of my work
But he didn’t know what he was doing
and I felt more like a clerk

The extra help hindered
made more work for me
The awkwardness continued
until I made them see

But my frustration continued
thanks to obnoxious jerks
who continued to doubt and question
the value of my work

Fish lips and cigarette stench
invaded my presence each day
I couldn’t wait for that son of a bitch
to finally go away

Fortunately, I was soon rid of
these temporary supervisors
They’d eventually get transferred
leaving me the sole survivor

When we moved, things got better
I began to feel respected
as the people around me came to see
I was more than they’d suspected

Then a new boss came in
who’d known me from before
Soon, I got busier

But the rules weren’t consistent
stress built upon stress
As the weeks went on and on
I felt more and more of a mess

(See, I’d long felt isolated
totally alone
Sharing my existence with no one
completely on my own)

Finally, I could take no more
and decided I had to quit
I didn’t know what else to do
I’d just had enough of it

But the days dragged on and on
with four weeks left to go
Each day felt emptier than the last

and time excruciatingly slow

That’s when I broke down
fell completely apart
I limped to the finish
on Xanax and a broken heart

I’ve never quite recovered
from all the damage done
Now I wake up every day
to start back at square one

(18 July 2014)

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