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And Words Are All I Have

Buddhist quote somewhere that said:

Anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

"Are there as many men here as, like, in the Navy?"

So, did you get the job?

Everyone wants a job. To have money for Twizzlers, takeout coffee, and cars.

The only hitch is you have to go through an actual face-to-face interview to get one. It’s a nasty gauntlet, competition out there is brutal, and no matter how well you feel you’ve prepared, within five minutes of the sit-down you are sweating like a musician writing a check.

But with a little research online and off you can easily brush up on the rules and etiquette governing the interview process and arm yourself with sure-fire ways to convince the interviewer that you are, indeed, “the one.”

Truth be told, it’s amazing how just by not doing the simplest of things you can get an instant leg up on most of your fellow applicants.

To wit, here then are my Top Ten Things Not to Do During a Job Interview.

1. When asked your favorite recreational activity, do not mention entering the Annual Open Throat Beer Drinking Contest in Daytona every March break for the past 11 years.

2. Do not slip a five-dollar bill into the interviewer’s palm when you shake it. (Make it a C-note or nothing.)

3. Men, refrain from asking the female interviewer: “So, are you married or what?”

4. Do not scratch at yourself throughout the proceedings, complaining “I’ve been so frickin’ itchy lately.”

5. When asked about personal achievements do not mention the time in grade three when you took a classmate down after she called you a suck-up.

6. Do not ask “Does anyone else finds it hot in here?” before stripping down to your sports bra.

7. Do not list among your weaknesses your practice of gunning it past Taco Bell’s drive through windows without paying, shouting “See ya, suckers.”

8. Do not list among your strengths that you once watched the movie “Air Bud” all the way through and did not weep openly, not even once.

9. Do not ask, at any point: “How much longer do you think this is going to take?”

10. Do not ask, just before leaving, “Where can I get a beer around here?

And this rundown of what to avoid interview-wise comes from a friend who hires for corporate HR. She's a now-scarred veteran in the trenches, who vented about the horrors she faces daily across her desk from job hopefuls.

1. a) Do not arrive late. b) Do not arrive naked. (Swears she’s witnessed both.)

2. Do not call your friends from reception saying how bored you are.

3. Do not walk unannounced into the HR office, glare at the person on the phone, and bark: “Are you going to be much longer?”

4. Do not announce as your opener: “I forgot my resume but here are my ideas to fix this company.”

5. Women: Do not ask in conspiratorial tones, “Are there are as many men here as, like, say, in the Navy?”

6. Do not grab and read papers on the interviewer’s desk with the comment: “Let’s see what kind of rip-off operation you are running here.”

7. Do not bring your mother with you into the interview. (Again, my friend swears.)

8. Do not ask how the interviewer got his job and then say through a snort, "Well, I won’t bother doing all that.”

9. Do not bring a takeout pizza into the interview room, announcing: “Hope ya like extra chopped onion!”

10. When told your hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. do not ask if that means “every day.”

Now go get ‘em.

rainy large pixels

The man drives as closely to my car
as he can without making contact.
His truck window is down.
He is taking my right of way,
and I’m driving home, already crying,
from the audiologist’s office.
I’ve turned on the music
and have just been thinking
that somewhere in Denmark,
an engineer lays her head
on a pillow filled, perhaps,
with eiderdown, her mind stuffed
with equations she mastered
in order to write the code
for the music setting on my
new hearing aids. They cost me
as much as a used car
and will not rejuvenate
my cilia, cannot rebuild
this foundation that gradually
crumbles, but they have
resurrected, for this moment,
the voice of the trumpet
and polished its bright tones.
I cannot conceive
of how the years she bent
to her math books resulted
in this flashing beauty,
but I lean on it
the way a person leans
on a crutch when her knee
has given out, the way
I lean on Telemann who wrote
this concerto almost 300 years ago,
each note big enough
to compensate—across time—for loss,
for the man passing slowly by,
menace blaring from his eyes,
as, triumphant, he raises
his middle finger like a baton.

~~ Francesca Bell

Here is a link to an essay I wrote about depression for Huffington Post.

Among the many essays I have published on the Huff Post Blog this one remains the one that garnered the most response by far from my readers.

Here's a perfect segue to some exciting news I want to share...

I am thrilled to become the very first poet in residence at an innovative Toronto health care company that specializes in complex and treatment resistant mental health care cases. (Physical illnesses and challenges of clients are also addressed.)

I work with particular clients on an individual basis using the writing of poetry as a therapeutic tool.

I am honored to be part of this traiblazing initiative.

bedroom door ajar

Best tweets...
My mama told me I was the oldest of four girls and to stay out of the attic. There were only three of us.

Depression's lesson to me: When the day is good- live for today. When the day is bad- live for tomorrow. #SickNotWeak


The manager I’m shadowing tosses
five steaming slices of fresh cut prime rib
in the trash, as calmly as tech bosses
laying off 10,000 workers at a clip.
I know he’s memorized the thick binder
of exacting rules. He wants to rule the world.
His flopped ears and underbite, though, reminders,
he’s more shih tzu than snarling rottweiler.
“Nine ounces,” he says, tossing the first slice.
Each slice thereafter thrown on the ‘ounce’ cue.
“Not ten. Not eight. But nine. To be precise.”
His eyes lock with mine, smug with his coup.
I imagine his sweet mother ignoring
his skinned cats and other such cruel whoring.

I then recalled helping some elderly.
To say they reeked would be impolite.
No cats, but cat food, a peculiarity.
“It almost tastes like tuna, ain’t that right?”
I recalled seeing handwritten entries
in rural homes to casserole squirrel.
Dogless men bird-dogging squirrels up trees,
hoping buckshot only went subdermal.
The manager walks away, droning on:
“Nine ounces of medium-rare beef,
au jus, baked potato, sautéed onion,
steak knife, dessert fork, lucky cloverleaf …”
I think, Best to parboil squirrel, large size,
with a glug of vinegar to tenderize.

~~ Chris Kaiser

“When I heard a piece on NPR’s Think about food waste remembered an incident that happened to me when I thought I’d want to pursue restaurant management. It also jogged my memory of times I’ve come face to face with people devising creative ways to assuage their hunger when their income is below the poverty line.”

for tenderness

Loved this...

The Art of Balancing Rocks - Christie’s International Real Estate


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Recent Post

The Weight Of It All

Life's not hard enough, so let’s invent a foe so fearless, So shameless, That it doesn’t toy with your dreams So much as mocks them. A tyrant that hands you back, ravaged, After it's done its worst. And even though we call on everything we know In defense, Science, all of it, yes, The tiny powdered capsules of hope, thrice …
The Weight Of It All

Michael O'Donnell didn't return home from the Vietnam War, but his poetry did. Alum Daniel Weiss was so taken by O'Donnell's work that he spent the last decade-plus learning about its author.

This is from an essay by Bret McCabe, himself a vet, published Spring of 2020.

Helicopter pilot Michael O'Donnell could hover near the ground for only a short time before returning to the sky. On the afternoon of March 24, 1970, O'Donnell had guided his Huey below the dense foliage of Cambodia's mountainous northeast region to retrieve an eight-man reconnaissance patrol that had been inserted to gain information on the size and movements of enemy forces but encountered gunfire early on. Three days into a planned five-day patrol, they needed to be evacuated.

O'Donnell, a 24-year-old from suburban Milwaukee, was part of the helicopter rescue mission involving two unarmed transports and four gunships that were dispatched from an airbase in Vietnam's central highlands. After lingering at 1,500 feet, waiting for the recon team to reach the extraction point, one transport had to return to base to refuel. The transport was on its way back when the recon team radioed that it couldn't hold out much longer. O'Donnell dropped his helicopter into a windy canyon and through a small opening in the canopy, lowered his craft to just above the ground. The recon patrol emerged from the jungle with enemy fire trailing after them. It took about four agonizingly long minutes for all eight men to board, a little longer than the average pop song.

After ascending about 200 feet, O'Donnell radioed to air command, "I've got all eight, I'm coming out," right before his helicopter burst into flames, likely struck by a ground-based rocket. The pilot, his three-man crew, and the recon patrol were officially declared missing in action in 1970. O'Donnell wouldn't be declared dead until February 7, 1978. His remains were discovered in 1995 but not officially identified until February 15, 2001. And on August 16, 2001, he was interred at Arlington National Cemetery, which was created as a final resting place for soldiers on land seized from a plantation owner after the Civil War. O'Donnell left behind his wife, his parents, a sister, his best friend and music partner, and a collection of 19 poems, some of which he included in his letters to friends, discovered in his footlocker after his death.

One of those 19 retrieved pieces, printed below, O'Donnell had mailed to his friend Marcus Sullivan in 1970. Sullivan served as a combat engineer in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968, and they wrote each other throughout their training and tours. O'Donnell's daily missions transporting the dead and wounded back from the front lines were taking their toll.

If you are able,
save them a place
inside of you
and save one backward glance
when you are leaving
for the places they can
no longer go.
Be not ashamed to say
you loved them,
though you may
or may not have always.
Take what they have left
and what they have taught you
with their dying
and keep it with your own. And in that time
when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane,
take one moment to embrace those gentle heroes
you left behind.


Book Sales

The Music of Leaving, my collection of poetry, is available to order.
Order directly online — for both Canada and U.S. orders — from Amazon, Brunswick and Demeter.
The Music of Leaving - Tricia McCallum

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