Posted by: John Looker | 27 November, 2015

Peace And Tranquillity

.
A host of daffodils dancing beside a lake –
but this is a calendar, curling on the office wall.
Festivals, yes, but no matter how closely you look

it will tell you nothing about this miniature world.
No mention of the morning Miss Jones appeared
improbably late, resigned and left in a whirl

of cigarette smoke. Nor the day young Murphy applied
grinning for a sizeable advance to order a suit.
“Oh, the style – Mr J was appalled!”

And that may be true, but this much is certain:
that the Head of Accounts didn’t mind in the least
and that Daphne soon shortened her skirt.

These were events unmarked in a lengthening list
of significant days,
although at the time their significance mostly was lost.

In stationery, old Mr T continued to doze
in the afternoons; the cleaner left mops in the hall;
and pens scratched, or were still, behind closed doors.

 

© John Looker 2015

Here it is: the last in a suite of eight complementary poems. Together they present the lives of a group of people at work. The first was published at:

https://johnstevensjs.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/making-the-world-go-round/

My book, The Human Hive, found seven other takes on work as a way of looking at humanity. You can find samples of the book’s poems on this site under the category “Looking At Life Through Work” or you can see how my publisher, Bennison Books, introduced the book at:

http://bennisonbooks.com/category/john-looker/

It seems to me that there is a no end to the ways in which poetry can use work as a way of looking at humanity. I don’t know whether others would agree.

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Responses

  1. Not only do I agree, John, I believe that viewing work through the lens of poetry blunts the hard edges, softens us. I love this series!

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    • I’m pleased that you feel that Elaine — and thank you.

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  2. You already know how much I love this series of poems, John. 🙂

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    • Many thanks, Deborah, and for your advance encouragement with these poems.

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  3. I agree that the subject of work is a rich lode for mining poetry, John, and you’ve certainly proven it so. The history of American poetry is full of poems about work, though work as job seems to take a back seat to work as vocation—as the poet Marge Piercy says in her poem “To Be Of Use,”

    “the pitcher cries for water to carry
    and a person for work that is real….”

    For me, the last poem in this suite suggests that the workplace is a far cry from Wordsworth’s “host of daffodils.” These portraits of people at their employment—with hints of their lives elsewhere, otherwise, are probably typical, but very sad and funny at the same time…like life. You paint them beautifully, John…”still-lifes” in the flow of corporate dynamics. Bravo!

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    • That poem by Marge Piercy is very satisfying, isn’t it? She sets the bar high. There’s such a natural flow, and I loved the theme — that rejoicing in a shared task undertaken with a will! I didn’t know her work I’m afraid, so thank you for introducing it to me, Cynthia. I’m going to read some more.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I do agree – especially poetry from you

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It has been a pleasure to watch this suite unfold, and to see how the characters are revealed through their interactions and office politics. Miss Jones appears to the savviest of them, working quietly and diligently away until such time as she can, it seems, rely on her art for a living.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good evening down there Brad. It’s very rewarding to hear that these poems were of interest; thank you. I became quite fond of the characters myself.

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  6. You took me back to a place I thought I’d lost, thanks John.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Pete. I hope your book is coming along well.

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  7. John, I retread this latest series over the weekend. Bravo! One of the best little sets of poems I’ve read in quite a while. Keep up the good work and a happy holiday season to you and yours

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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    • That’s a very nice compliment Fred, thank you. There’s nothing more rewarding than hearing someone wanted to reread a few poems.

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  8. I love this poem, John; the longing, melancholy and memory of it, and the characters, described so briefly and yet so vivid.

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    • Thanks Julian — it’s very nice to hear from you.

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  9. John, cripes I just did a work up on the series, and now, thanks to me, wordpress, or the new Apple computer is gone. I would like to find it again! There is always risk in trying to do full comments in the technology. Anyway, I’ll try to comment again later. Maybe I should use Word and then cut and paste. Probably safer. I really like this series. I used as the theme of the small essay that it reminds me of Henry David Thoreau’s sentence, ““Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

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    • Hi Thomas. I’m traveling so this must be a brief reply but I do want to say how much I appreciate your generous remarks. I like your choice of words from Thoreau: they do seem remarkably appropriate, or perhaps I mean your choice is gratifying. All the best.

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  10. sorry John – WordPress somehow trashed your comment on my post ‘From the Hill’. Thanks for your perceptive comment…

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  11. Your series of workplace poems (all well written) got me to thinking of great workplace movies. In my opinion, the best of those I’ve seen is THE APARTMENT (1960), though there are many I haven’t seen which got good reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s set me thinking too. Nothing immediately comes to mind with a conventional workplace but there are a few exceptional scenarios: The Social Network and The Imitation Game perhaps. It does suggest that movies mainly offer escape from normal life rather than exploration, and yet so much happens of emotional importance in the course of work. Thanks for extending the field!

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  12. 🙂

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