What I Should Have Said At My Exit Interview

I should have said
“consider me”
more often.

I should have cared less
that they did not.

I should have
made them feel at least
some small pain
upon attempting
to change me.

I should have considered
myself more often, earlier,
less shamefacedly, less
amenable to their molds.

When they said, “We want you
to just be your best self,” I should have
looked around and realized
who they thought I was
or could be. I should have known
that I was too odd to be myself
for them, since when I was myself
I was too odd
and uncomfortable for me.

I should have just seen
the short care they extended,
the impatient worry, the limits of 
the grace they could afford me
as I made my way sputtering
and thrashing through.

I should have just said that — 
maybe I could have avoided
those nights alone at conventions,
in business hotel rooms
at three in the morning,
unable to sleep, air conditioning
turned up to sub-zero level,

wondering 
how the hell I would handle
five meetings tomorrow
when I couldn’t even get up
and turn the Arctic away
from my skin,

wonderding
if this is how my body would feel
next week, after I finally did it,
after I was finally dead.

They told me leaders
and managers needed to be
less moody. I should have said,

yes, I know.

I should have said
at the beginning of this
that you should not think of it
as a poem of regret,
or sour grapes;
rather, this is
published research

on exactly how a system
built for narrow health

can and did
without a malicious thought
by anyone
who fit inside 

strangle someone
broken wide open
at all seams

who still cannot fathom
a return to anything
that anyone inside
might call “normal.”

About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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