Unemployment Line

He impressed me–
the way he kept a smile
As he stood with the other hungry faces
With vacant downcast eyes
Wearing their defeated shoes with no laces
Shoes two sizes bigger than their feet

His smile, a sunbeam, spread
across his broad whiskered face
His determination gleamed through his faded blue work shirt
All the way down to his large muscular hands
That weren’t afraid of a sweat-stained shovel handle
Or to grip the sour-smelling rags, used
to clean the public toilets at 55th Street Station

I counted them–
One hundred and thirty-three men and forty-one women, waiting
to be chosen for work, any job
that would put a dime, hopefully a quarter in their pockets
Enough for a loaf of day-old bread, maybe some beans
If lucky, a can of oily sardines

I was glad they picked him
His smile set him apart from the others
I shouldn’t play favorites
Each one of them deserved a job
Some food for their families
A pair of shoes that fits

In Over My Head

I’m five feet ten inches tall
Average height for an American male
When standing in three feet of water
my head is well above water

When standing in six feet of water
I’m slightly in over my head, and
I can jump up and down, and
bring my head above water

When standing in twelve feet of water
I’m considerably in over my head
Short of floating to the surface
there’s no way to get my head above water

At the bottom of a deep glacier lake
I’m really in over my head
There’s no standing, even for a second
at this unfathomable depth

Clearly, there’s no trouble
understanding any of this
So, why can’t I figure out
when I am in over my head in life?

Why don’t I realize that
when I say yes to 5 work projects
due in the same week
that I am in over my head?

Why do I fail to grasp the insanity
of working twelve-hour days
five days a week, and
two four-hour days on weekends?

Thanks to GE former-CEO Jack Welch
there is a business concept called a stretch goal
which refers to performance expectations
exceeding resources available to reach them

Am I a victim of too many stretch goals?
Have I mistaken myself for a fish
with the ability to breathe underwater?
Gee, maybe I’m in over my head!

Words for My Work

My work: helping communities, businesses prosper
so there are good jobs for people
Not what I set out to do…
what I discovered, after graduate school
that’s helped me prosper
Beats selling snow to Eskimos

Thirty years, been my work
Researching, planning, staging decisions
testing new ideas, opening doors
raising money, resolving conflict,
evaluating progress, and
occasionally pulling rabbits from hats

Fulfilling work, mostly
but demanding, stressful
Always selling my wares
keeping my name in front of clients
Admin sucks, especially taxes
Getting checks in the mail, much better

Dealing with egos, a part of the job
especially high-minded politicians, business CEOs
At times, big shots roll over you, like tanks
Being a lightening rod, for new ideas
and when change is needed
Sometimes your butt gets fried

Poetry helps me balance
Averts self-combustion
Keeps my right brain alive
Something else is brewing
Somewhere between consulting and poetics
Stay tuned, it feels alchemical