Table of Contents



Carrie Shipers


On second thought, there are parts
of your whole self we hope you'll leave
at home: What your favorite psychic
told you to expect the next time Mercury
is retrograde and why "in" is omitted
from that phrase. Physical complaints
your doctor can't explain. Pills
you've tried for pain and high cholesterol
then stopped because of awful
side effects. Your lingering investment
in a project reassigned to someone sure
to ruin it. How schadenfreude should sound
in real German. Anything you learned
from therapy or self-help books you were
too bored to finish. Your commitment
to conserving paperclips and poisonous
toads, curing a non-fatal disease that may
lurk in your genes. What you think
work-life balance really means and why
it's out of reach. Your current stance
on aliens and clean eating. Any weekend
or vacation plans we might be jealous of—
or conversely find so sad we're glad
not to be you. The podcast affirmations
you repeat in the restroom. Wounds
caused by sibling rivalry, divorce,
or former supervisors.  The darkest place
you've been online and why you chose
to go. We've always known you weren't
drones or automatons, that you have lives
outside our shared hours. But we
were only trained to manage employees,
not human beings as messy
as you've shown yourselves to be.




As an intensely private person, I think the idea of being aggressively encouraged to bring my "whole self" (whatever that even means) into a work setting sounds like a nightmare.  And as a semi-professional contrarian, I couldn't resist imagining how management might respond if workers complied, maliciously or otherwise, with such a policy.  Needless to say, I had great fun drafting this poem.