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Submitted by PaulSchweer on


Deferential, glad to be of use, 
Politic, cautious, and meticulous; 
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse...
                                                    – T.S. Eliot

I seem best suited for bit parts on small stages, at my best when squeezed by circumstances scripted by someone else.  Not a great resume bullet:  "Kept head while all around lost theirs and blamed it on him."  But there it is.

"What do you do?”

I’m a manager.



No vision.  No great things.  Just pressure.  Just standing between demand and performance.  Just wondering, mostly, what the hell to do.

Talking back to the voices in my head, I usually just grunt.  One time, I said aloud, "No, I don’t."  Recently, I said, "Frost."  And was happy to have guessed right.  And happier, then, to hear it read well.

What poetry is, what good it does, and, certainly, why anyone should care – if, in fact, anyone still does – poetry, those beautiful bits of tightly compacted language, results from somebody feeling squeezed somehow, and speaks to those squeezed similarly. 

And I feel silly saying management and poetry in the same sentence.  But where I live professionally, the way my work life tends to work out, is nothing if not humanity at odds with its own ambitions.  People at cross-purposes in a common enterprise.  Feeling pressured.  Squeezed.

What to do?  Certainly, please, I’d like a bone – some set of steps – to gnaw the remains of my high-mindedness. 

But, if you please, a way to be okay with it.  As it is.  And not satisfied.

Paul Schweer




jhack's picture


Nice post, and good to see you're not squelching your inner voice.  

Many of us seek a deeper meaning to our work (lest we truly lead lives of quiet desperation.)  

Bloom's perambulations about Dublin, trying to sell the ad, attending the funeral of a friend, and so forth, are given meaning because he acts with charity, caritas.  We can carry it with us too, on our small stages, pushing that rock uphill.  There is plenty of good work to be done down here, out of the media spotlight, to make life a little better for someone else.  

Thanks for the smile...


Mark's picture
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It's old, but my favorite book which brings poetry into the workplace is Love and Profit, by James Autry.

I am not good at writing poetry.  But every once in a while I look down at the words I write - and there are so many that randomness may  be the cause - and I think, "well, okay then, that sits well on the page".

One of my favorite thoughts, quoted in the above:

I slept and dreamt that life was Joy;
I woke and realized that life was Duty.
I acted and behold, Duty was Joy.


Mark's picture
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And, I would politely suggest that the answer "I'm a manager" fills THIS heart with joy and duty and gladness AND vision AND greatness. The world may tell itself a story of power and greed, and not one of duty and responsibility, but I am one, and one with conviction is a majority.


drinkcoffee's picture

Mark -- thanks for that.  You made my day.



PaulSchweer's picture
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Mark said:  "...the answer 'I'm a manager' fills THIS heart with joy and duty and gladness AND vision AND greatness."

I get discouraged sometimes.  When I do, doesn't usually help to reach for my versions of those things.  (I do have my own little bit-player versions.  In deference to all I owe you, Mark, I'll not tell you all about them in great detail.  You're welcome.) 

Usually, I have better luck just trying to be okay with whatever is going on, trying to get through it without making things worse.  Resolving to keep standing in the middle of the mess.  The days following are often better.

Also recommended for home use.


Paul Schweer