The Chairperson

January 2007

A forever smiling face,

Courtesy schooled in professional ethics,

Determined to conform to bureaucratic forces,

Descending from above–

Plays over the surface of the interactions,

Like morning mist rising from a mountain pond.

Another meeting, proceeding with decorum,

Focus on the task at hand, professionals with a job to do,

Descended from above–

The courtesy of interactions,

Keeps the work on track (a product with which careers are made).

It depends on how they see you up above,

As rational and reasonable in the work,

Playing the objective role, doing what must be done,

Teamwork through which the project moves along,

Agenda informed with corporate goals.

“We do not have to like each other,” the chairperson counsels,

“But we need to do the work (descended from above),

Efficiently as possible,”

A compromise is reached, a deadline met,

Like mist on the morning pond evaporating with the sun.

But beauty in the morning pond disintegrates with hidden angst,

A dim awareness, somewhere in the depths,

That the pond has died– a birthing cradle devoid of life,

Acid rain, descending from above, has turned the cradle toxic,

Fruits of team-players in distant institutions.

A festering life, infected from the past, in fact,

Informs a logic in the service of the depths,

A deeper agenda driven by karmic destiny,

The poet cries in vain: “we are the hollow men,”

A compromise is made, and fate is sealed.

Like robots in an automated factory,

Whose managers have long-since fled,

Mechanically, a product is produced,

That no-one needs or wants,

The work gets done.

A smiling face, veiling a multitude of sins,

A depth of petty partisanship devoid of grace,

Unwillingness to ask the questions “why?” or “who” or “what?”

“Ours not to reason why, ours but to do or die”

Sings the poet, proclaiming the glory of professionals.

A pilot post-war, interviewed on camera,

Recalls the excitement of firecrackers when a boy,

Recalls the thrill of the aircraft: advanced,

Automated, dropping a product from the skies–

Pride of a professional, descending from above.

No longer creatures in need of grace,

The ethics of professionals will do instead,

We end the meeting promptly,

Delegate the work,

And set the dates to meet again, in eternal recurrence of the same.

But in the depths of the morning pond,

Veiled in a beauty devoid of life, remorseless serpents of death,

Germinate in the darkness,

Festering through the water and the land,

As the smiling face of the chairperson–

Calls the question, and decides the vote.