Wayne Michael DeHart (May, 1997)
Fired he said, you’re fired he said,
so drop what you’re doing and clean out your desk
and be gone by noon without disturbing the others
with shallow goodbyes and stuff like that
because you’re fired, he said.
Six years of coming in early and leaving late
and skipping lunch and busting my butt for him.
Six years of showing up when I was sick
and missing vacations and covering up for him.
Tired he said, I’m tired he said,
of your wrinkled shirts and worn-out suits
and walmart shoes that don’t present
the proper image to our clients but no more
because I’m tired , he said.
Six years of working at home at night
and neglecting my wife and kids for him.
Six years of waiting for a “reserved for” space
in the company parking lot for him.
Required he said, it’s required he said,
that you turn in your name–tag along with your keys
and fill out some forms and aren’t those company pens
I see in your pocket so best hand them over
because it’s required, he said.
Six years of concessions and wounded pride
and loss of self-esteem for him.
Six years of cheap motels and burger joints
to lower expense accounts for him.
Retired he said, Black’s retired he said,
without warning at mid-morning
to move to Scranton or some such place
and now the reports won’t get finished
because Black’s retired, he said.
Six years of torture in this terrible place
had greatly increased my disgust for him.
Six years of suffering in submissive silence
had nurtured a nagging contempt for him.
Expired he said, White’s expired he said,
dropped down to the floor at ten forty-four
clutching his chest and gasping for breath
without giving notice so we’re short one more
because White’s expired, he said.
Six years of timid yes-sirs and no-sirs
to display the proper respect for him.
Six years of flattering his unsightly spouse
so she’d always be in a good mood for him.
Re-hired he said, you’re re-hired he said,
it’s been a long morning of stress, strife and tension
but there are Black and White issues that need your attention
and you’ll be forever indebted to me for saving your pension
and work even harder, so you’re re-hired, he said.
(How the tables had turned! I wanted to smirk.
Too often scorned, now I’d deal with this jerk.
Whatever the cost, it was my time and place.
But … valor was lost, when he snarled in my face.)
Inspired I said, I’m inspired I said,
by your faith in me and this second chance
to prove my worth in this wonderful job and great career
to a man I trust and revere, respect and hold dear,
and I’m so incredibly insp…
ired, I said.