The Last Meeting Mantra

We slouch around the conference table like sagging pillars of Stonehenge,

all of us engrossed as vegans in the prospect of a rare burger,

the morning sun blasting laser rays through the blinds,

branding us with striped shadows like a noir shot

of a prisoner on death row for a crime he didn’t commit.

At the head of the table, someone drones on like the teacher in a Charlie Brown TV special.

We’ve always assumed he outranks us because of where he reclines on his throne,

but we care about discovering this with the same intellectual curiosity

astrophysicists devote to investigating the differences between two sides of a Twix bar.

None of us pays attention for what proves to be the half-life of Uranium-238.

After that period equivalent to the average time between ice ages,

each of us in turn is forced to fabricate fantastic facts and figures about the progress

we’ve made since the last meeting, on an order of magnitude equivalent to discovery of the wheel.

And because no one pays attention to anyone anyway, we can as easily concoct hallucinatory narratives about

how we’ve mastered time travel or seeing through the back of our heads.

The more fabulous the fable, after all, the better the retelling in the reading of the minutes at the next meeting.

Since, however, no one listens even to the reading of the minutes,

the group’s collective creativity falls upon ears as deaf as baked potatoes.

After the last person ceases screeching like a fingernail running a marathon across a chalkboard,

the occurrence of which is indicated by a prolonged period of silence like a conversation between two pet rocks,

the kind that is termed “awkward” by people who care about such things

as if they were watching the reanimation of a deceased televangelist,

the lifelike body at the head of the table wha-wha-whas something else worth ignoring,

your heir offering you a Cinnabon and a cigarette,

someone staggers to his feet, the coyote after an Acme dynamite accident,

so everyone follows course, lemmings reversing direction and heading inland to safety.

Our exit resembles salmon negotiating a stream packed tighter with Grizzly bears than a clown car.

On the way to our cubicles, we snag another cup of coffee and a donut to sustain us,

then collapse at our desks to get down to the real business of the day:

Carefully checking our social media accounts before lunch.

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