Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Poetry Corner

I'm taking three classes this semester. My Monday night class is English comparative Literature. I have a very cool professor who likes to work on a little bit of poetry every class. We're using A Pocketful of Poems: Vintage Verse for this purpose and it's actually a really nice collection.

Anyway, I wanted to share one of the poems that I happened upon while browsing through the book the other day. This is for all my girlfriends toiling away at the office.

The Secretary Chant
Marge Piercy 1934 -

My hips are a desk.
From my ears hang
chains of paper clips.
Rubber bands form my hair.
My breasts are wells of mimeograph ink.
My feet bear casters.
Buzz. Clink.
My head is a badly organized file.
My head is a switchboard
where crossed lines crackle.
Press my fingers
and in my eyes appear
credit and debit.
Zing. Tinkle.
My navel is a reject button.
From my mouth issue canceled reams.
Swollen, heavy, rectangular
I am about to be delivered
of a baby
Xerox machine.
File me under W
because I wonce
a woman.

Metropolis 1927 Dir. Fritz Lang

The first time I read this poem it gave me chills. I found it kind of terrifying. As I read it I could see this woman being transformed into a machine, feel the dehumanization that occurs bit by bit every day as she performs her office duties under the cold flourescent lights of a deadening corporation.

"Michelle, help me with this fax. Michelle, I need you to overnight this to India. Michelle, make ten copies of this presentation and bind it for me in half an hour." and so on and on. I joke that I have job security because I'm the only person here who knows how to work the copier.

The problem with the secretary's (administrative assistant's etc.) job is this: Anyone who is intelligent/organized/together enough to handle this job, is also too intelligent/organized/together to want to do it for very long.


How much longer do I have in school before I can get out of here and write for the NY Times?


Marz said...

And how was your luncheon for "Administrative Professionals Day'?

meesh said...

Ha, ha. Lousy. They didn't take me out on Wed. becuase they were all too busy.
They are supposed to take me out today for a nice lunch. We shall see...

GingerStep said...

ohmigosh, i'm going to print that out and put it on my desk. It sums up my life for the last two years...and I graduated college in 2004. Finally, for the first time ever, I'm breaking out and into my desk, no fax machine, thank GOD.
Good luck, keep plugging...