I frequently pass days on end
In the company of consummate liars,
Exchanging smiles and disarming pleasantries
Across glossy hardwood conference tables
Twenty climate-controlled floors above street level.
These are not pedestrian deceivers
Or compulsive fabulists;
These are artists, educated and rehearsed,
Community standard bearers
And charitable-cause contributors:
Regents of misdirection and denial.
Their teeth are straight and white,
Ties repped and windsored right,
Buttondowns lightly starched, wingtips polished,
Pinkies ringed and watches rolexed,
Hair and nails luster cut—Jesus knows
Their measured voices resonate
With the assurance of oracular truth.
I patiently question,
Show documents, prompt remembrance.
They patiently feign ignorance
And manufacture misunderstanding,
Dissemble while their counsel offers coffee. Cream?
A court reporter taps question and answer.
The sun completes its arc
Across the table top and we are done.
Exhibits are collected, more courtesies exchanged;
Briefcases close in chorus.
The elevator down descends from hell.
—from Rattle #17, Summer 2002