Failures Walking Sideways, A Poem by Chris Russell

When I think about my relationship with work

I’m reminded of all those times I couldn’t believe

how bad things had gotten in the workplace,

to the point where even the most valued workers

were being pushed out to the end of their patience

and made to dive into a shark-infested future

with only hunger on its mind, and all in an effort

to simply lighten the load on those running the ship,

while producing treasures that never felt good enough.

Later, having miraculously landed on a deserted island

of underemployment, where opportunity fell

on my head and gave me mental diarrhea each time

I swallowed too much of it, I did what I needed to do

in order to survive.

I kept myself hydrated, performed a few regular

exercises to keep my joints oiled, and even meditated

on my salty tears when most days after work I felt so

deeply underrepresented I begged for a sudden and

untimely death to give me all its attention, to slither up

and fatally bite me in my sleep through my ramshackle

tent of hope I’d made from whatever shit washed up.

Now, I’m just as lost as I ever was, and the island of

displacement still rumbles underneath me like a reason

to blow, only now the views from the shore where my

failures erupted out of what kindness I could defiantly

unbury, walk sideways, snapping their claws day and night

back into the mouth of an unfeeling universe I can’t seem

to change the gravity of, but while looking sunnier

than they used to,

the blue water bluer, the scavenger birds friendlier than

before, or at least it seems that way when they land close

as if to pull up a chair and watch a show, but are really

just waiting for me to you know damn well what.

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