“I Reached Out and Am Awaiting a Response” by John Arthur

John Arthur


I’m the Lebron James
of local bureaucrats.
Give me a project
and I’ll manage it
step by step like a PMP
using the waterfall method.
I’m shooting eighty-three
percent with these
crumpled up reports,
my desk as a backboard
for this waste paper basket.
I’ve got ninety-nine
passwords stored in
my head and I can
estimate the total
square footage of a building
with just one glance.
I rotate the same
two pairs of pants.
And once per year
when I go to France
I refuse to check
my email. Someone else
can pick up the refuse.
I’m just eating snails
and strolling Montmarte
buying street art
which I’ll hang
from the walls
of my cubicle in city hall
hoping someone will ask
where I found it
but no one ever does
and look, it’s not that
I’m trying to stall
it’s just for each decision
I’ve gotta call
a committee. This shit
is still a democracy
even when the ballots
are clouded with Meta’s
pixelated prop gun smoke
and I denote
I shall not poke
the sleeping commissioner
who right now is bumbling
through a speech
written by a Rutgers
college intern who uses AI
to craft policy briefs
in their briefs and listen,
everyone knows New Jersey
spends the most
per square mile
on repaving its roads.
Pot holes like pock marks
on my face. With legal pot
to fill any shortfalls
in our budgets
which barely budge
even when everyone’s
taxes go up
faster than a luxury
apartment complex.
And before nodding
out I hear your voice
again and again saying
Yes, please hold,
I’ll transfer you now.

from Poets Respond
May 5, 2024


John Arthur: “The Lakers lost in the NBA playoffs and my news feeds have been inundated with debate over whether Lebron James is the greatest basketball player of all time or whether it’s Michael Jordan. That prompted the ‘I’m the Lebron James of local bureaucrats’ opening, and the rest of the poem just came out basically as is. By the way, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the greatest of all time.”

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