Poem for April 5 — “While Watching the Clock at Work” by Carol Tarlen

While watching the clock at work, I contemplate the end of entropy

And what will the rapture look like?
Will files dissolve into dust devils
and swirl off my desk
leaving piles of ashes beside the phone?
Will invoices melt in the xerox?
Will I have time to fax the kidney of a bat
to an organ bank
and demand an immediate finder’s fee?
Yes! And my computer will refuse to backspace;
I will scatter my typos like bones,
While my immediate supervisor and the CEO
nip at my heels like a pack of half-dead dogs.
I will eat the appointment calendar for lunch,
and, in a bulemic fury,
toss it down the office toilet,
dreams of corporate mergers
swimming with sewer rats.
Oh orgasmic ecstasy!
Oh joyous rain falling on my
aching skin!
I am making a personal phone call to Gabriel,
deleting the memories of a
thousand machines,
ripping the chains from my ankles,
kicking off my correctly-office-
attired one-inch heels
my bare feet dangling delicately
above my bulletin board
as I gloriously rise to paradise
and join the angels liberation

Carol Tarlen

This poem and others were published in 2005 in the on line journal What If as a tribute to Carol Tarlen (click the link to read more of her work), who died in 2004.  The editor of What If wrote the following about Tarlen:

From the Editor: Carol Tarlen’s description of herself for a journal I was involved with in the early 90s called News From Nowhere, where the first three of the poems below were previously published, went as follows: “Carol Tarlen is a clerical worker at U.C. San Francisco, a member of AFSCME Local 3218, a left-wing sort of anarchosyndicalist, and a bad-tempered pacifist. She writes poetry, fiction and essays.” Carol’s work was published in anthologies like Liberating Memory: Our Work and Working Class Consciousness, and journals like Pemmican Press and Working Classics. She was politically active in the League of Revolutionaries for a New America, a group whose politics I couldn’t quite grasp but which included some of my favorite San Francisco poets: Jack Hirschman, Sarah Menefee, and Jorge Argueta, as well as Carol and her husband David Joseph. Carol was feisty, seemingly tireless, although she always said she was exhausted whenever you saw her, and she had endless reserves of contempt for the stupidity of rulers and endless reserves of compassion for the underdogs of the world. Her life and work are described in an excellent obituary by Julia Stein in the current issue of Pemmican Press. She died a year ago this June and this is a small tribute to her enduring inspiration.


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