The Soul as Social Service Caseworker

The two-way-mirrored visitation room's empty at last,
    and she's beat. A full hour the Liver and the Will argued,

Unwilling each to understand the other's point-of-view.
    Swollen and belligerent, the Liver demands sole

Custody; the Will, little brat, has counter-petitioned
    for emancipation. It goes nowhere. It seems always

To go nowhere. Outside, the offce-park's parking lot's
    nearly empty in the dusty early evening;

Only a never-once-washed early model Volvo
    and a Toyota Tercel Wagon remain. They seem,

In fact, to have been abandoned, their once good-hearted
    owners having vanished as so many before into the archives

In search of the one case history which would illuminate
    all others. Sometimes they're found wandering bile ducts,

Dazed; sometimes not. Only Memory, a department decimated
    by budget cuts, has a backlog deeper than hers, but she's trying

To dig out, puts in a few more hours off the clock: referrals
    for alcohol, depression, debt management, job training.

Everything in triplicate. Everything in a sort of untrained
    legalese. When she fnally nods off, head propped

On a stack of forms, she dreams in the problems
    of others, dreams in paper cut and fle folders' endless

Beige. They're stacked so high, you can't even see
    the cubicle walls, which are covered in clipped

Comics, print-outs of funny email forwards, kids' painted
    pictures, the small things that make life at all bearable.

Jeffrey Schultz's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Boston Review, Indiana Review, Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry, and elsewhere, and have been featured on the PBS Newshour's Art Beat and Poetry Daily. He's received the "Discovery"/Boston Review prize and a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. He lives in Los Angeles and teaches at Pepperdine University.

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761