David M. Katz
They are all gone into the world of light!
Where are they now, the clerks gone postal,
The grumblers, the low-paid ones? Gone.
But gone too are the boys of little merit
From the Ivy League or Stanford,
Gone, though favored long ago,
More than all the rest. Curmudgeons, quiet ones,
Office managers. Where have they gone,
The stragglers and the mentors who brought
The hardest ones along? We meet for moments
In the kitchen to watch the java drip,
Mesmerized, wary of each other, afraid
Of wasting time and the company’s
Free coffee. One woman has a baby,
Tells of his enlarged heart, how she hasn’t slept.
She isn’t liked, talks behind backs, is suspected
Of uselessness. But now she talks to me.
One man stays late, scanning someone’s files
For the smallest scraps of sex. Others simply go,
The good ones who care, and the young ones who cry
At their first dismissals, the techies said to leave
By choice, but more likely hiding failure.
They are gone and we are holding on.
Ubi sunt. Where have they gone,
The old executives? How many were sleeping
Undetected, dead for all we know?
Where have they gone, and where are the pretty protégés
Who sustained their dreams? Some busy with families,
Others with regret, having gone the safe route,
Holding on for dear life to their jobs? Oh, they fade,
They all fade from these aisles of glass dividers.
They are all gone into a world of light.
You sit there in retirement, the shot
Catching the slant of Miami’s morning
Light across your face, your glasses low
Down upon your nose in such a way
That I remember you. There are lush trees
In the background, orange maybe, some fruit
To fill the scene with tropical suggestion.
Your hair’s cut short, looks black. It really seems
Like you, the only one unchanged in all
The endless hours since senior year. You were
The living center of our scene, the one
Whose home was always ours, the place to go
Where each of us could fall apart in all
Our teenage broken-heartedness and shed
The faces we were starting to construct
To show the world. Your couch was generous,
And “Rubber Soul” was always on, as if
“In My Life” could reflect for each of us
The deaths and lives we might have yet to live.
“But of all these friends and lovers, there
Is no one compares with you,” I might
Have thought one of those winter afternoons,
Before we stirred ourselves for our departures.
An award-winning financial journalist as well as a poet, David M. Katz is the author of three books of poetry—Stanzas on Oz and Claims of Home, both published by Dos Madres Press, and The Warrior in the Forest, published by House of Keys Press. Poems of his have appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The Hudson Review, The New Criterion, PN Review (UK), The New Republic, The Hopkins Review, Shenandoah, Alabama Literary Review, The Cortland Review, and The Ekphrastic Review.