Thursday, February 24, 2011

The World’s Most Expensive Umbrella Stand

When I sat down to write INVISIBLE DRIVING my overarching concern was brutal honesty. I knew that telling my bizarre tale precisely would require going public with a treasure trove of character defects and portrayals of unpalatable, even illegal, behavior.

I assumed that making myself vulnerable in this way - inferiorities, blemishes, and flaws exposed - would be oddly endearing – as if humbling myself thusly would make me less intimidating and more accessible. Imagine my surprise when just the opposite occurred.

When a phoenix rises from the ashes, witnesses quickly separate into two groups, those who cheer and those who point their arrows at his chest. Everybody loves a winner – so the old song goes – well – not quite everybody.

This poem was written many years ago, when I labored within the walls of a corporate jungle with a landscape “leveled” by political correctness. While it targets women it could just as easily have been written about men since the desire to tear down others instead of building one’s self transcends all demographic borders, including gender.

Little Women

Men who are big and powerful
Need to avoid little women
Pretty and fastidious, talkative, precise
Flitting through the conference rooms
And corridors, of monolithic, gray
Corporations, agitated nervous flocks
Of brightly colored birds
Traveling together for protection
Warning calls and panicked shrieks
Echoing between them
Loud enough for everyone to hear
 “It wasn’t what he didn’t have to say
I found offensive, so much as the way
He didn’t say it.”
Music with a message filed in triplicate
By stealthy bureaucrats who hunt with pencils
Feet fashioned into umbrella stands
Guilty of the harm he might have caused
A thousand ivory toothpicks
For those darling pocket knives
The ones that have a cross
And come from Switzerland
Little women circulate in safety once again
As natives wonder how to move the lumber

Alistair McHarg


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