Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The work of a speechwriter

You would think we corporate types
would be the most concerned with how
the words sound as they dress the ideas
and erect the paragraphs that emerge
from the executive mouth in the hope
of meeting with, mating with, first
the ear then the head then the heart.
And we are, concerned that is, but it’s
not the first thing because the first thing
is always will it sell to the boss, will it
sell to the boss’s boss, will it sell
the executive VP as this fragile ship
sails uncertain seas before docking
in the CEO’s office, and even then
no port is ever safe or secure, even CEOs
have bad days and take it out on the speech
and it flies its way back as an act
of humiliation. But first it has to make port.

We sit in our cubicles and are told not to be
sound-bitish, read the latest New Yorker
because that’s what speechwriters do even
if was never the same after William Shawn
but it’s the ideas of reading it, you see, and
Foreign Affairs, too, and The New York Times
Book Review, completing the professional trinity
of right and impressive thinking. We gather
each Friday at 4 p.m. precisely, usually
in one of the cubicles, for the cynical hour.
We agree among ourselves, every Friday
at 4 p.m., that it might not get any better
than this. And it doesn’t.

This poem is submitted for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets. To see more poems, please visit the site. The links will be live at 2 p.m. Central time today.


Maureen said...

"We gather / each Friday at 4: p.m. precisely, ... / for the cynical hour." That's certainly loaded!

I admire that you write speeches, Glynn. It cannot be easy, especially for the speechwriter with integrity and faith, crafting words to come from another's mouth' it's at precisely the point the words leave the writer's hand that all control is lost. Whether it's a corporate head or a politician giving a speech, the words inevitably come up against a cynical audience.

Claudia said...

so is this what you do as a profession glynn? - this is awesome and a vivid description far beyond the visible..tremendously enjoyed

Brian Miller said...

ha i might like to be a fly on that wall for that meeting at 4 pm on fridays...what will sell...i fear that is not always what is needed...nice write glynn

Laurie Kolp said...

A very humble position you are in!

Anonymous said...

So glad to have a peak in a world of which I know nothing.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, friend! The big suits don't want speeches with good taste, they want speeches that taste like the stripped realities, those least-common-denominator talking points that shorthand a message. It ain't poetry, though it's a given that prettification are the unimportant but necessary nipples to get people to pay attention. Interesting to me, you wrote this poem like their way of speaking, which gives us a view of the poetics of work. Too few poems about that thing that occupies the lion's share of our day. Nice work, Glynn -- Brendan

ayala said...

We agree among ourselves, every Friday
at 4 p.m., that it might not get any better
than this. And it doesn’t.

A good write, Glynn. I think it's awesome.

Jannie Funster said...

I would suck at speech-writing. Even in the one government job I had they pronounced my writing too flowery. I should realized then I was meant for poetry.

Arron Shilling said...

Hey Glynn

loved the diversity
of this piece

the alternative tone and idea
provoked intrest

and you delivered something smart.

the sombre ending packed a punch


Pat Hatt said...

If it rhymed I can do it with ease and it would be right out to lunch..haha

Great write, who knew speech writing could be such a delight.

Anonymous said...

indiana jones couldn't get through all that.

Lisa said...

Enjoyed the glimpse into your work life.

Louise Gallagher said...

"the cynical hour"


Unknown said...

Isn't that the struggle for many in different ways? To be true to self while making a living. I can see it might be most difficult in your position, and as an outsider, I'm fascinated by your occupation. Would love to see how the inside works. Great peek into your world :)

Anonymous said...

Haha! Corporate speech writing sounds positively beguiling (at least to me from my viewpoint of putting words into the mouths of politicians over on the other side of the pond). At least you have group support at 4pm on a Friday. That's a luxury. You paint such a pretty picture of a quietly bubbling thunder-squeak. Great write :-)

Charles Elliott/Beautyseer said...

In my experience, the more people you reach, the less you are allowed to say. You'd think they would want the sound bites, though. Corporations -- such a bad idea.

Shashidhar Sharma said...

Hi Glynn...

Its interesting to see this verse, captured the essence of people who are there working and wondering what the day might hold for them.... I could relate to it as I have had the same issues working in the corporate world some time back.. glad that I have a business of my own now... and I could concentrate more on work than worrying about it...

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
At Twitter @VerseEveryDay

Anonymous said...

love the confidence in it,
rich and well rounded words.
a job well done.