I have very little patience for literary whining about white collar work. Its common images (drones, zombies, treadmills, etc.) are boring—at best because they are overused, at worst because they reveal an utter lack of compassion for the less privileged. Hence my guilt that this poem came out of and addresses this sort of zombifying work.

 

Most days, from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM, I either conduct imaging for patients or wait to conduct imaging for patients, all of which takes place in the eye clinic’s small, windowless rooms. I read and write poetry while I wait (I also just roam the internet; I’m not entirely full of literary virtue). Though I wrote in a notebook while I was still in training, I no longer have note taking as a good excuse to carry one around; and so for six months now, I’ve written a decent amount on post-it notes, which lend themselves to short lines, hard stanza breaks, and repetition. Usually I try to flow and whatever. “Grin” did not come from flow, but from a bout of irritation and distraction that I channeled staccato onto my stack of post-its. I ended up with a series of disjointed, short declarative statements. After I exorcised my anger with work, I went back, copied out many of the lines, and modified them incrementally, which I think replicates a certain sort of language familiar to one who must interact with hundreds of people everyday. “Hi, how are you?” becomes “How ya doin today?” becomes “How’s the morning gone so far?” etc.

 

Hopefully, through these procedural changes, I approximated a redemption of grunt tedium, reshaping arbitrarily set blocks of syntax into containers for something more luminous.

 

But who am I kidding—that redemption already surrounds me. My wife, my family, everything.