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It took him 20 years to reach the top,
but he made it, CEO, a winner,
just what his mom always wanted. Thinner
than his brothers, tougher, he’d never stop
until he’d earned more in a year than all
his frat mates earned together all their lives,
until his parents, brothers, and their wives
admitted he was number one. He’d call
the way he managed his affairs and dough
an eagle’s way, but his essence is all
turkey buzzard, a money disposal
bird, dour, gaunt, who loves to squawk, “If you know
the currency, there’s no one you can’t buy,”
yet trusts no carrion’s too rich to try.


Four years ago I won the lottery.
Each June I get a million dollar check
in the mail, stare at it awhile, and stick
it in the bank. Then all the buttery
calls start up again. I don’t know how they
find my number or even remember
when the money’s due, could be September
or never, I don’t care. They know the day
to beg: “Ms. S., you are a generous
woman, and my husband’s slowly dying
of a malignancy. It’s a crying
shame we’re broke,” or “My legs are cancerous.”
I’m too bored with my own life to say ‘yes,’
and far too lucky to be in this mess.


He sits at his desk calling clients and
strangers, trying to sell them mutual
funds they don’t want to buy, call after call,
down the gradual tilt of the day, a trained
monkey of a small town salesman, he thinks,
holding a cup for the wealthy yokels,
to spit in, might as well be. Might as well
be holding their dongs. He fears his job stinks
of misused intelligence, aggression,
persuasion by misimplication, old
women’s trust bought, with a smile, half-lies told
through wooden lips for the big commission
someone always pays. But it’s not his fault:
It’s his career, perfecting his assault.

William Buege