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FURTHER READING
Poems by Randall Mann
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End Words
Poem Beginning with a Line by John Ashbery
September Elegies
Essays by Randall Mann
6 Poets, 6 Questions: Randall Mann in Conversation
Postcard: Advice to a Young Poet
The Illusion of Intimacy: Discovering John Ashbery
Valentine: Randall Mann to Thom Gunn
Poems About Work and Money
A Situation for Mrs. Biswas
by Prageeta Sharma
Blues
by Elizabeth Alexander
Coming Close
by Philip Levine
Engines Within the Throne
by Cathy Park Hong
Hay for the Horses
by Gary Snyder
I am the People, the Mob
by Carl Sandburg
i am witness to the threshing of the grain
by John Hoffman
Odd Jobs
by Jericho Brown
On Quitting
by Edgar Guest
One of the Monkeys
by Nicholas Johnson
Personals
by C. D. Wright
Po' Boy Blues
by Langston Hughes
Song of Myself
by John Canaday
Song of the Shirt
by Thomas Hood
Testament
by Carl Sandburg
The Dance
by Humberto Ak'Abal
The Debt
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
The Eternal City
by Jim Simmerman
The Orange Bears
by Kenneth Patchen
The Telephonist
by Susan Yuzna
The Unknown Citizen
by W. H. Auden
The Whistle
by Yusef Komunyakaa
The World Is Too Much With Us
by William Wordsworth
Thinking of Work
by James Shea
Vocation
by Sandra Beasley
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Proximity

 
by Randall Mann

Out of the fog comes a little white bus.
It ferries us south to the technical mouth
of the bay. This is biopharma, Double Helix Way.

In the gleaming canteen, mugs have been
dutifully stacked for our dismantling,
a form of punishment.

Executives take the same elevator as I.
This one's chatty, that one's gravely engrossed
in his cloud. Proximity measures shame.

I manage in an office, but an office
that faces a hallway, not the bay. One day
I hope to see the bay that way. It all began

in the open, a cubicle—there's movement.
My door is always open, even when I shut it.
I sit seven boxes below the CEO

on the org chart. It's an art, the value-add,
the compound noun. Calendar is a verb.
To your point, the kindest prepositional phrase.

Leafy trees grow a short walk from Building 5.
Take a walk. It might be nice to lie and watch the smoky
marrow rise and fall, and rise. Don't shut your eyes.
About this poem:

"I have been thinking a lot about the machinery of work—commute, hierarchy, vernacular, etc.—and wanted to integrate my often conflicting ideas about them into a poem. This poem is about several of my jobs, and, in a sense, none of them."

—Randall Mann






Copyright 2013 by Randall Mann. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on June 11, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.
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