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Sunday, 20 September 2009

"Walked into state..."


White Noise

Walked into state
office building
in flat white
light of cold overcast that,
without sun,
makes all days
seem alike--boat adrift on
ocean sans shore
floats aimless
on endless waves
falling and
again lifting.

Stills from White Noise, dir. Geoffrey Sax, 2005


Dale said...

Agh. Those state office buildings. Much of downtown Austin preserves the quad architectures of blocked state bureaucrat life. Low flat grey blocks of state. I have lost myself in the underground caverns of the Texas Capitol, hunting for conference rooms during the Texas State Book festival (sponsored by Laura Bush). Anyway, thanks for the poem.

Marcia said...

Yes, those buildings, those people who walk so slowly to and from them, all imagination lost...just the pay check waiting every two weeks...I've seen the desperation, the lackluster looks...hell, I've been there.

TC said...

Dale and Marcia, six months of intermittent expeditions to the Unemployment Depot (well I guess they call it Employment Center), down in those grey gaseous concrete wastelands beyond the Coliseum, a cinderblock pile with graffiti'd stairwell walls, frayed and peeling institutional carpeting scarred by cigarette butts ground under the heels of the terminally jobless, to be herded into large holding pens hundreds at a time to fill out forms and endure endless listless rote presentations... 'twas so much worse than any actual job I've ever had (and I've had some bad ones) that when the question of renewal of benefits came up, I preferred to walk away deeper into my unemployment, thank you very much.

David Grove said...

Tom, that you're not rich from book sales, lecture fees, coveted academic appointments, etc.--that you'd ever have to support yourself with drudgery or darken the door of a government mausoleum such as the one you described--is amazing. It reveals, as clearly as anything else I can think of, the falsity of the prevailing values in this topsyturvydom we inhabit. I'm appalled.

TC said...

Well David, hmm. Thanks for sympathizing.

For me writing has alas proved literally no way to make a living.

The unemployment office anecdote, though, there I merely scratched the surface of my "walks into state" of recent campaigns--that is, of the several undesirable experiences from which derived the putative "poetic" (?) interest in the phenomenology of such things.

The one that really stands out, much as would an open wound, was a walk into the state Labor Commission offices. Well, really you can't just walk in, you have to check in, and be checked. The first obstacle a metal detector so elaborate as to put that of a major airport to shame. (Then again how would I know, I haven't been in a major or for that matter minor airport in this century.) Entrants are sternly required to remove shoes and empty pockets of objects. In my present advanced dithering "state" I find it useful to attach everything in my pockets to my person by means of a key chain which the building security dragoons (it took two of them) laboriously detached from my pants. A grim stoicism at a such moments is called for, first rule of walking into state.

I was trying to reclaim some shred of lost wages and lost severance owed me by a former employer of 21 years. As a holder of what's termed in the trade a shit teaching job you will know what I mean when I say that's what it was. The school went belly up due to what I am allowed to call "administrative and financial mismanagement".

Nobody ever knew where the money went, all I know is that after I "walked into state" and a modest negotiated settlement was signed, sealed by all parties, I never did see a penny, and that was two years ago. Nothing was nor indeed, as I now know, ever will be delivered.

It's the system. When you walk into state, you've already lost and/or left at the door not only your keychain but your hope. I don't even think about it anymore except in my role as Mr Answer Man, a return of the repressed.

This state is anyway currently bankrupt in more ways than one, the next of its grand official administrative state buildings I enter I will have to be dragged into.

Lally said...

Man, you are nailing it every time out. I know you don't need my encouragement, but don't ever stop brother. (And I relate to the obvious, worked in a county mental institution when I got out of the service (talk about official buildings whose insides define gloom) in which I was one of the lowest ranked for over four years because of insolence and court martials and etc., and like any good working boy, blew the little money I ever did make in my Hollywood experiment so back waiting for government checks etc. But none of that shit ever really kept me alive, it was poetry (and the kids) that always did that.)

TC said...

Mike, I'm afraid we're on the same page, footnotes to a history somebody else wrote without consulting us. And though like you I'm banking on the poetry to keep the infinite game going, I know the bank is shaky and the game is really finite after all. What then can we do but cry in that beer we're not having, and try to get over it, though we know we won't? And we too here await those government checks, though they are a joke--and the song from Repo Man pops into the broken old cabeza, "Can't see the joke/with a microscope".

Either we're in trouble here, or this night blogging is starting to get to me, or both.

(And wow, I totally do need your encouragement!...So let me reciprocally encourage you, keep up the good work, Mike!)

Lally said...

Thank you man.

aditya said...

nice one Tom

So much in so little ... nicely done ..