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.

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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 it into a poem. This poem is about several of my jobs, and, in a sense, none of them.”

–Randall Mann

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Randall Mann is the author of three books of poetry including Straight Razor, forthcoming from Persea Books in October 2013. Mann lives in San Francisco.

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