Tender

By Randall Mann Randall Mann
There was a time
we had functional alignment.
I was your individual
contributor, you my associate

director. On Monday
I said Happy Monday,
rolling my rimshot grin.
Ring-fenced

by cool molecules,
like cattle, I battled biosimilars,
sipped local gin;
I tried my luck at affairs

and trade fairs,
optimistic as a fantasy
suite. I inked the deal,
the ink slick

and permanent,
like President
Reagan. I didn’t sleep
unless I felt sick.

Something was always gated
on a fragile something.
Everything
on the critical path.

The whiteboard, cruel
as conceptual math,
scope creep
like a disease.

Some of those days,
our parent showed up,
bespoke shoes bearing Leckerli.
I felt like a starlet

on a cruisy backlot,
an outpost of opportunity.
I took on a new role,
went through the motions

and the typing pool.
But the bonus was no bonus,
any more than the bay.
Like tender, it started to fray.

My admin booked a good
weekend of atrocity. I winced.
I slid the To-Hurt folder below
a molecule’s Package Insert.

Then came the Efficiency
Report, my resignation.
I packed up the brood
for Orlando, a last resort.

I cut off my khaki pants
at the knee, traded in the wife —
this is the Epcot Center of my life!
I want to thank you in advance.

I’d fallen out of favor, like a nation.

Source: Poetry (December 2013).

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This poem originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2013
 Randall  Mann

Biography

Randall Mann’s poems are often set within the landscape of Florida or California. Influenced by Philip Larkin, Elizabeth Bishop, and Donald Justice, Mann’s poetry—at once vulnerable, unflinching, and brave in its ambivalence—explores themes of loss, attraction, brutality, and expectation. Of his preference for working in form, Mann says, “Form helps me approach more comfortably the personal, helps me harden argument.”

Mann is . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, Separation & Divorce, Activities, Jobs & Working, Social Commentaries, Class

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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