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Tender

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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

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Tender

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