This rare bird must while being intelligent, levelheaded, patient, accurate, and analytical work at top speed to meet an almost impossible deadline.
—Chicago Manual of Style, 13th ed.
The last shall be first is not
irrelevant, as she anticipates
readers’ questions, oblique
entrances into text, references
sought as pages blur
between thumb and index
finger, like trees on a highway
when she worried destination
as a child in her father's car.
Streets and cities and names
for melancholia — located,
understood. A papyrus
scroll might be unrolled
for ages without chapters,
or headings. To be lost
is common, but not
the printing press, its page
and leaf and line numbers.
Praise the system that allows
order: not a concordance,
but a cosmography; how
the solitary indexer elides
between alphabetical corridors
in sublime contentment.
Ghost Writers' Nursing Home
No one talks about their own lives.
And the stories of movie stars,
presidents and divas
are old. It’s nice to sit,
let someone else dish
it — well, it’s worth a snicker
over lunch among goblin gossips
out to pasture. Rarely
do they feel regret. The coulda
been a contenda crap. Someone
shuts them up. Big name:
steam on a mirror. Done.
Out back there’s birds and a feeder,
and enough stories to last a—
Don’t need those either.
The Late Shift: Copy Girl
There were creeps, too,
men who rode the cramped
elevator with me as I carried copy
from floor to smoky floor,
or who leered from the inky presses
when I entered for the early edition.
A copy editor with bleary eyes
always stared when I cleaned the wire,
and the photo editor lingered outside
the darkroom, a slow smirk
surfacing. I learned to be quick.
A wit. Though sometimes
I asked about their daughters,
told the guard out front to watch me
on the little TV when I left at 1 AM,
past the loading docks out back,
though I knew he’d be distracted by talk,
by whoever walked past the glass
front doors on Franklin. When
it was over, I toughened my walk,
crossed the dark street with cars
along the curb, into the lit parking lot.
I was 17, determined to cut through
every desperation in the air.
—Marilyn Annucci, Madison, WI