Formalist Sidewalk Poetry Club
JANUARY 26 - MARCH 1, 2012

JEQU (w. Matt Jacobs)

Five persons are presently gathered around a rather cleverly faked mahogany table. The white metallic blinds of the meeting room are mostly drawn; the overhead lights are warm halogens, and overall you’d think you were in a small drawing room. A table, half moon in shape, sits off to the wall neatly arranged with a water pitcher, ice bucket, precisely five empty glasses, and diet peach iced teas. I suddenly have the feeling this meeting is going to last all morning.

The first associate has blue eyes. He is young, with round gold-rimmed glasses, he must have graduated only a short time ago. He gives a remarkable impression of eager professionalism. He will take notes all morning, sometimes at the most unexpected moments. A quiet workhorse and, perhaps by default, a future leader.

The second associate is a middle-aged man with a fringe of beard and a wide pink forehead. He seems to exert a great influence on the woman seated at his side. He is a theoretician, peevish in demeanor, an owner of many pens. One can predict his interventions will be so many intemperate calls to order concerning the importance of methodology and, more generally, of clarification of data points and definitions. A master of all one needs to consider prior to action.

The third associate is a woman named Lauren. The poor thing has a melancholy air. Any perfunctory cheer seems to have left her. Her face is flush and she regularly wipes her dark hair from her eyes with the back of her hand. I have the impression she’s been crying; I can picture her breaking into sobs as she moves about her apartment in the morning, alone, conducting her vanity routine.

The fourth associate is a kind of caricature of the rural pacifist. He wears boots and a parka, as if he was just back from an upstate hike even though we are in the middle of the city. In front of him on the table he has placed a book called Which Wood Is This? I can’t work out what he’s doing there, he obviously knows nothing about the subject under discussion. Whatever the truth, it’s only matter of time before he will begin making repetitive remarks about the “uselessness of these meetings which never get anywhere.”

The meeting commences with introductions and a ritual exchange of business cards, which are passed across and around the table in the most haphazard way. These are scrutinized then pocketed swiftly, though not without a certain archaic tenderness, a faintly imprinted memory from the era of genteel commerce, when everyone grew up acquainted with the rules and necessities of what are called commercial or mercantile morals.

The first associate begins to introduce his background, instinctively slipping in the name of the private university from which he earned his professional degree, and the town, but not the name, of the more elite place where he attended undergrad. His curriculum vitae recitation is an amazing feat of compression. Though it last less than fifteen seconds, I vividly feel that I grasp the course of a life. I immediately get the feeling there is a high probability of being unliked by all in the room.

On the other hand, my background is incoherent, erratic, and to tell the truth, not very impressive. My previous roles lack a consistent thread and momentum. There are unaccounted gaps of time, divergences that don’t seem to have added valuable experience or skills. For the rest of the morning, I decide I will react to the others’ comments with a slightly dazed expression of admiration, as if astonishing perspectives were suddenly opened up, full of wisdom and breadth. They must, at the very least, be left with the impression that I am a young man of goodwill and potential, ready to engage myself under their orders in the proper direction.