At least once a week the phone rang
lifting to terse introduction, no preamble
“… did I understand
… did I think
… had I not told my staff. ”
curt summons to the office
“ I want to show you,
I want you to see this for yourself ” –
often minimal and easily remediated
but contrition and apology expected.
At least once a month
one of the voices came to office
“ could I have moment
was it convenient
did I have few minutes.”
they needed my assistance
my interpretation – could I see it their way?
Acid became sugar – became phone call.
For more than 20 years identity and gender were secret
an obvious pseudonym
located prominently at the front of the magazine
savaging BPs, almost BPs, and wannabe BPs
scattering sins and gossip like dog and excrement.
Close – very close to home
and the margins of libel –
or would be if truth was slander,
most shut up, rather than ask him, or her,
to put up.
Most reading the magazine turned directly to these pages
even if some did not admit
titillation could always be found
even when sounding tame or passé
. . .
“ heard it all before, right
ageing graying film director shacked up with
hot young starlet
abandoned the marital nest and moved in with the
pouting, steamy one
yawn yawn –
not a penis between them.”
black can become white
white become black.
Hard to recall now, those days when nicotine was unwelcome,
before exiled outside –
always owned up to
and no pretending not to.
of tobacco as king
and Queen princes and princesses eager to be inducted.
Cooler couldn’t be cool without glowing tip
clouds on planes, trains, movie theatres,
teachers walked around school yards – fagging
while looking for smokers.
Apparently the biggest butt pain
wasn’t regulations or opprobrium
some always ….
An old colleague told me about before he gave up
he carried two packs
the one in use
and one with just one
“sure,” cheerful and obliging … passing the dummy pack
“ no, no I couldn’t take the last one. ”
Worked every time he said