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February 13, 2008

Whatever Title You Think Works

Filed under: Poetry,Writing — litlove @ 3:45 pm

From Fig Crumbs

I haven’t much time so this is a bit of a rough draft.
A lot of the detail I’ll just have to leave to your imagination.
Don’t worry, it’s easy.
The only thing I know for sure is that I want thirty characters involved.
They don’t need names, you can think some up if you want to.
Whatever names you like, I don’t mind.
You could call them all the same name.
Thirty Berts.
Actually, I’d rather they weren’t all men.
And not all whites either.
I’d never have all whites.
Not to be politically correct but there are
thirty people for god’s sake.
They can only be all white if you’re not white.
Or if you’ve got a really good reason.
I don’t even know why I brought that up.
Let’s just have a sensible mix.
Now, I’ve not thought of what they’ll be doing.
Not at all.
Just get them up and about.
Get them busy.
If you’re stuck for an idea they could
help you to come up with one.
They could all be inspired writers if you like.
Surely you can get something good out of them.
If not then we’re really fucked.


  1. Burt and I used to go for “the walk.” It was a tradition where we worked. Deskbound and no longer endowed with 20-something metabolisms, a group would spend lunch hour walking from our office, at the Embarcadero in San Francisco, through Levi Plaza to the Filbert street steps, up through the Grace Marchand gardens. It was good exercise, worth a couple apples at least, in keeping the doctor away.

    Sometimes we saw the Telegraph Hill parrots, and always there was the view out over the bay.

    While on vacation at a state park in the Upper Midwest I came across Burt’s lip balm. A product line for Burt! Always a bit of an outdoorsman, I brought some as a sort of gag to show him, but somehow it never happened.

    The merger mania of the 80s and 90s had swept through our office, and some of us were none too happy with new management. During the walk Burt would tell us how he knew how to live off the land. A sort of Euell Gibbons approach. Burt gathered mushrooms, I guess, and other foodstuffs, hinting darkly at how he didn’t need management’s approach.

    Before we were all cut loose, I participated in a company conference or forum or some such. I forget. It was another of their exercises in lean and tough free enterprise newspeak. Jargon heavy with misapplied Darwinism. The various Berts got up and spoke, advising us how it was best if we made more bricks with less straw, like the Pharoah commanded. As gifts they gave us multi-tool screwdrivers. It had a T-shaped handle, the company logo, and little tools you could screw in place.

    I knew Burt would love it. “Get screwed by the company!” he would laugh. I imagined him toying with the various bits. It came home with me, but somehow never made it to the office before the ax fell. I think it’s in a drawer, with Burt’s lip balm, too.

    Burt is, perhaps, gathering mushrooms in the east bay hills now, across the bay from ouor old offices. We’ve had good rain; I hope he is well. The Berts — I do not know where the Berts are, but I’m sure it’s very zealous there. Survival of the fittest. We must be like jungle cats. Competition keeps us sharp.

    I never got to ask the Berts how often jungle cats compete. It seemed to me they felt cats were competing all the time — but feeding oneself isn’t competition. If the Berts had left their podiums, they might have noticed most animals cooperate lots more than they compete.

    A wonderful naturalist named Peter (Pyotr) Alexeyevich Kropotkin noticed, however, and wrote of it in Mutual Aid.. But his name was not Burt or Bert. I think I had five Burt/Berts up to now, but it was probably not going to last. Sort of like our walks through the Grace Marchand gardens, with the squawking parrots in the trees around us, and the view out over the bay.

    Comment by OmbudsBen — February 14, 2008 @ 1:59 pm | Reply

  2. Love the poem. And I love OmbudsBen’s “comment”

    Comment by Stefanie — February 14, 2008 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

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