Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sestina of a Salesman

It's late when he turns on his dimmest light,
And looks at his appointments calendar.
He squints his eyes to focus, tries to run
Along the pages, hoping that a plan
Suggests itself. Then, taking up his pen,
He marks his hopeful guesses for the year.

It's been some time since he has had a year
Unlike the last. His business has been light,
And sometimes he forgets to fill his pen,
He writes so little. On the calendar
Are few appointments. This was not the plan
He had, when he decided that he'd run

His own new business. He'd had a decent run
Of luck, and was the salesman of the year
(He's got the pin to prove it). Now the plan
Was simple: he'd help others see the light,
And show them that a simple calendar
Was all you needed. He set out to pen

An Art of Sales: Like cattle in a pen,
The people out there can be made to run
In herds, and as the seasonal calendar
Dictates the slaughter, so the retail year
Moves us to spend our money. With a light
But happy wallet, people think they plan

Their own consumption. Actually, the plan
Is not their own.
It flowed out from his pen,
And soon he'd published it: a handy, light,
And useful paperback. Initial run:
A hundred thousand. Surely, in a year
He'd make a pile. He cleared his calendar

And quit his job. The Retail Calendar,
He'd called his masterpiece. He knew the plan
Would work. Consulting fees were good that year,
But not the next. And, twiddling his pen,
He realized there'd no longer be a run
On his techniques. He'd flared out like a light.

The calendar speaks softly to his pen:
"His plan was simple, yet it couldn't run
A second year by such a gloomy light."

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