|Ford, Hussein, and Pinochet With The River Styx as Their Water Cooler
| Chad Parenteau
It’s so strange, isn’t it?
The better you do your job,
the more you’re ignored
by the bosses.
I liked that. The ignored part at least.
I can’t say that the job I was supposed to do
was good work—at least I shouldn’t ever
answer that question—but I did it anyway,
and only wanted a lack of attention
for my silver—or gold!
Every job is a good one
if your superior tells you to do it.
Even go home and die,
though I only learned that one
late in the game
and lost the right to go quietly.
Nixon used to tell me that
to practice the skills one needs
when speaking to the American people,
to rehearse speaking in front of an old stove,
and orate to a pile of burning coal.
He did seem to always sweat
before he went out to speak.
If it was ever a joke, no one ever confessed
when I tried it for four years. Ever.
It is your required baptism of fire.
If you are not ready to sweat
while others around you burn,
what kind of leader are you?
This is why you set fires before
the witch burning starts.
Strike a match, then tell the bitch
to do her worst, bring me more pleas
sewn onto burlap. All the more
that’s flammable to my breath.
Witchcraft, communism, the bodies
we bury have more names
than the ground can hold.
Our boat is taking a while, isn’t it?
Only because I sent the last three
back before you two came around.
I know where I am bound. I did my duty.
What if we’re supposed to go one at a time?
You’d like my executive express,
wouldn’t you? I’d rather swim.
Would any of you be fit enough
to make your own way?
Nixon used to always tell me to stay trim.
In a loud voice, he’d say he lived on
carrots, spring water and small negroes.
I don’t remember if I laughed
because I was nervous or because
I thought it was funny.
If anyone found out, though,
I would have just said nervous.
Right now, I don’t remember.
At least you never had to deal
with his spawn. If only bloodlines of irritation
could be wiped out so completely.
Sons, daughters, angry wives,
it doesn’t matter. Once you realize
that everyone can be your boss, it is easier
to outlive them all.
I sometimes wished for the voices to stop.
Even when I couldn’t hear them.
It takes a strong will to make that happen.
I would never want all of them gone.
Even someone with a torch for your fortress
counts as an addition to the funeral pyre.
I guess we all do our best work
in front of the fire.