Today’s business awaits my attention.
A loose assemblage of things still to do.
An assortment that hangs in suspension;
At the precipice of ‘now’ … fallen due.
Unfinished jobs have no place on the shelf.
And so, to that list; that drop-box of chores:
bullet-pointed messages; notes to self;
reminders that only a fool ignores.
And so, to that list of missed appointments:
that stalled project; that interrupted task;
to all that, that is yet to commence.
To that pending pile: “be patient” I ask!
. All in good time, each matter’s attended.
. It’s at that point, the file is suspended.
To the reader: Two weeks after retiring, I started my next job. The plan was to down-size expectation and workload; get things back to a manageable perspective. To some extent that was the reality but the fundamentals of paper warfare move from job-to-job and desk-to-desk. Projects are the enemy of state. They form the territory upon which office activities spiral out of control in the name productivity. Projects – front-line battles that draw upon scarce resources and redirect energies towards hot-spots of disputed service.
To the poet: As a single-minded sonneteer, I manage my own poetry project – an anthology of sorts. As far as I know “One More Sonnet” has no project-plan; nothing to coordinate its resources and deliver its services. With hindsight, I could back-engineer a plausible plan that makes what I’ve done look organised; but in fact, the whole project grows like topsy. From one idea to the next I lunge and lurch … help wanted; must be good with pen and caper!
For the most part, routine describes the day.
Business as usual distracts the eye.
Process and procedure keep chance at bay.
Method over madness will justify:
the practical, simple, the tried and true,
reason over passion, temper’s excess;
and so, the day proceeds, unfolds on cue.
Function, not fanfare, the mark of success.
Minimise the risk of excitement’s flare:
small steps, not large, and look before you leap!
Treat the day as hostile, handle with care.
Treat mole-hills as mountains; as far too steep!
. Today’s containment is alive and well,
. With fires to dampen and seas to quell.
To the reader: Work has an inflated ego. This self-appointed, self-anointed, arbiter of time’s worth is a small-minded accountant. Given a badge, this officious miser of minutes scrapes from employment every last morsel of production. The yard-stick is a poorly calibrated measure of busy-ness; units of labour; toil and drudgery. The accountant’s grip on work-for-work’s sake strengthens and with throttling effect motivation is all but exhausted.
To the poet: I’m working on a holiday… aren’t we all? Work’s relationship with rest and play doesn’t have to be adversarial. If work is a drudgery, then the distinction is probably convenient; as in, I’m ‘going to work’ suggesting a dislocation from other creative pursuits. Ideally, work, rest and play are a natural integration of life’s energies; with each contributing to an overall sense of wellbeing.
Not a year that went exactly as planned:
melodrama, tragedy and high farce.
Controversial guests that denied the bland
intent of pleasant passage come to pass.
We’ve managed (despite these guests) to cope
with upset, and to patch-up those mistakes
that through repair addressed the slippery slope.
We’ve all learnt something: learnt what it takes
to muddle-on, to pull-back from the brink;
to keep calm; bunker down and take it slow.
With stoic grit, we’ve learnt to neither blink
nor shrink from scandal’s shame or worry’s woe.
. We are the better for adversity.
. So claims the wisdom of perversity.
To the reader: I worked with a colleague who muddled his way through a year of workplace calamities. Piles of paperwork spilled over his desk; nothing got finished; technologies failed, and deadlines passed. With such hopeless organisational skills, other staff watched-on in dismay. His boss gave up all hope of a supervised solution; so the problem just got worse. The disconnect widened and office isolation became entrenched.
To the poet: I left a card somewhere on his desk. An end-of-year message that added precarious height to an existing pile of paper. And so began this sonnet. It’s not about ‘him’ more informed by his various predicaments. His office isolation (somewhat self-imposed) reminded me of brackets. Brackets (here exampled) recognise a necessary petition of parts; inclusive features, distinct in nature… describes him well.
And so we go about our daily chores,
adding and subtracting along the way.
Consuming and then replenishing stores.
Earning our keep, converting work into pay.
And thus, we spin the mill, our daily grind;
with mundane achievements barely listed;
rarely noticed, granted but never signed.
A backdrop for all our needs insisted;
and this, if named, would be our daily bread.
It’s what we do given functional sake;
it’s the substance that lies beneath the spread;
it’s the sliced-up loaf, not the iced-up cake;
. By what means is this day improved?
. By all means, in many ways manoeuvred.
Tim Grace, 1 December 2011
To the reader: Without monotony the human spirit can deal with routine pressures. If the grind is productive we will happily put our shoulders to the wheel. In physical terms, the mechanics of ‘return on effort’ can be expressed as a mathematical transfer of energy in a closed system. In philosophical terms, motivation is the lever; its efficiency improves with recognition and reward.
To the poet: I’m currently reading a book about how the Beatles wrote their lyrics. As described, some were inspired and others simply milled themselves into processed vinyl; through a ‘Hard Day’s Work’. Without the daily grind, without the hack-work, there was nothing to nurture the beautiful moments of lyrical inspiration penned by John, Paul; and occasionally George. A Beatles’ Album, with its highs and lows will outstrip a ‘best of compilation’ … if inspiration is the measure.
I collect nuts and bolts by the roadside,
it’s an odd assortment of random finds.
Some are obvious and easily spied:
they are those that shine before the rust binds
itself to their surface. New to the road
they have not nestled into hidden nooks,
nor taken the hit of a heavy load,
they retain the shape of their fresh made looks;
in every sense new to my collection.
As alluvial pickings they hold
the shimmer and shine of self-selection;
unweathered, yet to have their history told.
. So, what of this collection can be said?
. Nothing more true… than its a common thread.
Tim Grace, 29 November 2011
To the reader: Late 2011, I was seeking more from work than work could offer. Tedium was broken with a break for lunch that included a walk around the neighbouring streets. Always the tinkerer, I have an eye for nuts and bolts and this led to a surprisingly large, and quickly accrued, collection of threaded metal. An odd amusement but easily construed as metaphor: the world unwinds as road spill.
To the poet: Hardly a great poem, but then again, it actually describes a very real and raw time in my working career; when the most stimulating part of the day was a lunchtime walk. Each piece of road-spill is a poem in itself. The shiny collectables are obvious and attractive, but as in this poem it’s through them we describe the true character of a common thread; toughened steel.