By Chris Green
“The epigraph for Chris Green’s Résumé is taken from Brodsky’s employment trial in the Soviet Union: “I changed jobs because I wanted to learn more about life, about people. “These clear-eyed yet inventive poems about work offer a hard-won wisdom that lifts us above suffering to understanding. Green’s is a marvelously spare and colloquial voice with the kind of detail that cherishes and transforms our lives, that compels us with the authority of experience. His material is his own and others brutal and toxic jobs, which in the hands of such a skillful poet, provide a vision that reaches beyond the subject to his spare but complex epiphanies: “. . . everything in the end/is suffering, even love.” Nothing is exaggerated—like Green’s style—just precise and credible realizations that resonate and illuminate—grit, humor, vision—everything necessary.”
— Christopher Buckley
“Working odd jobs going nowhere, the fear of futility, the problem of money, the uncertainty of life—such are the burdens of youth. One cries out, like a psalmist. In Résumé, Chris Green resurrects and transforms such lost periods of life. He sees that every job teaches, affirms that even the lowliest job is a step. Résumé is not merely a record of employment— it is art employed so that human dignity can be redeemed through understanding and wisdom. “
A Brief Mad Bar Job in Florida
in memory of Jack Kerouac
The Hub sat at the fork of one road splitting in two.
It was known as the place where Kerouac
drank himself dead, also for the big wheel
that I’d spin—random cocktails, wonderful naive
possibilities, and I like a bum prophet turning
the world for maniacs, beach folk, mystics, old cops,
paranoiacs and pimps. They listened to that little song
tick….tick….tick, then “Ah! Whee!” mouths open as if
God exists, but you got what it picked. Jack might sweat
and curse but the wheel did not understand, not a bit.
In Florida everyone knew him and the sun—morning began
with them pretending to be God; they’d proceed
overawed; and then by six fall, teaching us repentance
as the sea dissolved to a black liqueur. Mornings
he’d clasp his hands in prayer; the wheel would dream
over his head. Nights he’d go and never stop—
one more spin, a bar girl down to the bay, or short-
cut the streets and ease up a fire escape to a rooftop.
It was always summer there but no stars. More madness
then home for soup and tears with his mother.
He hadn’t written in years; nevertheless, he’d gotten it all down.
That last horizon bled and bled from the mouth.
And his death like a great wheel at the end of the day:
he rolled down and out like a soft wave, washed back
into the street where the road and sky merged.
Petting Tent Attendant
The young attack and the poor pygmy goat’s
eyes roll back—his fur buffed to a scar.
I’ve seen real tears fly out of a donkey’s skull.
Flinching heroic rabbits (unselfing themselves)
smothered dead by toddlers. They morph into
my grandmother in her cancer bed.
I stroked her hand as she said, “I’ve never
been more scared.” Parents over-love,
their natures cry out—they push and butt,
demand their children to the front.
Wedged as we are between sheer cuteness
and the macabre, I lie to the lamb,
“Everything will be okay,” but hurt
becomes her, and the raucous people tug
at softness. I could say everything
in the end is suffering, even love.
I tell a hysterical child there’s nothing to fear.
Here’s the little white goat (little white ghost).
My boss’s wife died running a marathon.
She drank too much water.
I didn’t know that was possible.
One night on TV, I see
my Red Cross office building:
the world’s largest
vampire bar shares our parking lot, placed
directly across from the country’s largest blood bank.
I didn’t know.
The next day I tell my boss. He wants to go.
He’s been through a lot.
It looks like any place
with drinks and TVs. We sip cow’s blood martinis
until he has something to say.
They have a son and a daughter.
Blood is mostly water.
Next to us, vampires in suits talk quickly,
as if time is blood.
I wait for him to finish weeping.
A vampire steps up and asks
if he can help. He joins in about the wife.
They talk and murmur together.
When they finally put their arms around
each other, the vampire whispers,
“Beyond every essence another essence waits.”
This is the vampire way of saying goodbye.
I’m back at work, at my desk…
my wife calls and says twins.
I’m in the middle of proofing
a blood-donation document with a bright red pen.
I rise, I float down the hallway,
as far away as I’ll ever get from dying.
About the Author
Chris Green is the author of three books of poetry: The Sky Over Walgreens, Epiphany School, and the forthcoming Résumé. His poetry has appeared in such publications as Poetry, New York Times, New Letters, Verse, Nimrod, and Black Clock.He’s edited four anthologies, including Brute Neighbors: Urban Nature Poetry, Prose & Photography, the forthcoming I Remember: A Poem by Chicago Veterans of War and the forthcoming Independent Voices: A Small Press Sampler. He co-founded LitCity (www.litcity312.com), a comprehensive literary site for Chicago. And he teaches in the English Department at DePaul University.