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About this poet

Carrie Shipers is the author of Family Resemblances (University of New Mexico Press, 2016); Cause for Concern (Able Muse Press, 2014), selected by Molly Peacock for the 2014 Able Muse Book Award; and Ordinary Mourning (ABZ Press, 2010). She teaches at Rhode Island College in Providence.

Report on the Most Recent Survey of Morale

We noticed participation has decreased,
though whether due to layoffs or malaise
we can’t be sure. While the survey

is anonymous, if you filled the comment boxes
with These questions suck or Stop wasting
my time, we probably know who you are,

especially if you mentioned your division,
duties and job description, and even more so
if you signed your name. We’re sorry

you’re suffering, but we doubt work
caused your divorce. We’re also dismayed
by demands for better leadership.

While you’re welcome to select Somewhat
or Not at all in response to Do you find
management effective?, we’d like you

to imagine how that makes us feel.
Perhaps it was insensitive to ask
which of your coworkers are seeking

other jobs, but we really need an estimate.
If you left that question blank, it’s not
too late to pass some names along.

The news isn’t all bad. Even with
increased co-pays and deductibles,
our health plan is a hit, especially for those

with anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Although we can’t eliminate long waits
when contacting HR, you can now turn off

the music while on hold. Widespread raises
are impossible, but we’ve found funds
for better toilet paper, ice cream once a month.

In the coming weeks, a new task force
will form to brainstorm future questionnaires
as well as cost-effective ways to ease—

if not eradicate—your pain. (Though
we’re aware of some survey fatigue,
this instrument was too expensive

not to use.) The next window for feedback
opens soon. We’ll keep asking
what you think until your answers change.

Copyright © 2017 Carrie Shipers. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Spring 2017.

Copyright © 2017 Carrie Shipers. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Spring 2017.

Carrie Shipers

Carrie Shipers

Carrie Shipers is the author of Family Resemblances (University of New Mexico Press, 2016). She teaches at Rhode Island College in Providence.

by this poet

poem
I’ve always been afraid to fall—the rough 
embrace of the net, the crowd’s shocked gasp, 
my mother’s disapproval.  She loves me best

when I can fly, when I trust the bar, the leap,
the air and all my training.  From far away, 
every catch, release and tumble looks as effortless 

as breath.  Up close, we grunt
poem
Not because of the hours or the pay, which could be worse.
          Not because of my commute into this office park,
                    or that no one else appreciates that phrase as much as I do.

Not the dim unholy hum of energy-efficient lights,
          recycled air with
poem
	        After Marvin Bell

The Deadman speaks in sentences 
but rarely paragraphs.  He wears boots 
with silver buckles and walks 
without a sound.  His hat and coat 
exaggerate his height.  Unlike other 
wrestlers, the Deadman doesn’t need 
applause to prove that he exists.  
He mostly moves above the