why arent we at 95 occupancy.

I could almost hear her manicured nails clicking her BlackBerry in Philadelphia. Ding! The inbox inflated. Christine, my corporate hound, preferred Outlook to a submachine gun any day. On February 14, 2013, I couldn’t decide which execution method I’d prefer. Ding!

check the Budget were down in capital!!!

My office, a converted model apartment bedroom with crown moulding (not included) and Relaxed-Khaki walls (we’ll throw in the new paint if you sign today), never felt so small. And again, the electric knell:

ben Im going to need the lawyerinfo by COB

I rocked back in my black leather chair; loosened my tie. For the first time in my five-year property management career, I walked home, conjured a beer, and returned to my desk, feet outstretched over stacks of paperwork. Business was closed.

*            What I thought was an injustice

            turned out to be a color of the sky.

                                                – from “A Color of the Sky” by Tony Hoagland

*Flash forward to February 26, 2014 , and I am celebrating nearly one year of freedom from Corporate America, a full-blown professor/poet/independent soul with all the time in the world to soak up a local reading at Dante Hall. This is one of my “offices” now.

Let’s face it: teaching writing is far from real work and a hell of a lot of fun. Before I made the shift, though, I longed for poetry readings and maybe caught one every six months. When I arrived, I was disheveled, tired. Maybe this is how others who are in similar full-time, high-stress jobs feel, and perhaps this is part of the reason why poetry is “almost dead” in America, according to Josh Mehigan. To sit at home in front of a TV or thumb through a “smart” phone is infinitely easier than seeking critical stimulation at a poetry reading.

The South Jersey Poets Collective keeps my tie permanently loosened. The group is by far the most cohesive, supportive, and talented bunch of writers I have ever met. No membership fee; no fees for readings. I am proud to call myself a member because, here, members are activists for public poetry and pursue growth instead of growing complacent. They are bent on creating a vibrant poetry scene in their region, and – wouldn’t you know it? – they are succeeding. Philadelphia: Take notes.