Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Spreadsheet
Don’t use column A or row 1.
Even in spreadsheets, pictures are worth more than words.
Take time, google some images; people will pay attention and
You are paid by the hour.
Learn how to resize rows and columns.
You can google it.
Vivid color is the core of the beauty of this world
But too many colors
Make a spreadsheet hard to read.
Boxes tend to blend together hypnotically
Turn off grid-lines and headers, and chart borders
You can google it.
Although fun to kill time,
Avoid using more than two fonts.
3D charts don’t work in a 2D medium.
If your book gets too many pages --
Table of contents.
Always observe the page delineations.
Somebody might just print this thing.
You can google it.
Headings should stand out.
People want to know what you are
Trying to illustrate
You can google it.
A well crafted
From a faded blue
Beside the white
The mats are the last thing every night – four foot
by three foot, three quarters of an inch
thick, rubber -- row after row of rings
each with flimsy spines, for traction. The ones in my area –
the dish--zone – are easy. But the red ones
under the Souse Chef – Leonard -- are caked
with lard, chunks of fallen shrimp. I’m telling you the guy’s
a fucking disaster. He’s a crappy cook too, but
he kisses Judy’s ass. The waitresses kiss Leonard’s ass.
Leonard kisses Judy’s ass. She kisses the customers. Everybody
sucks up to Dr. Henry -- comes in every
Friday with a new anorexic bimbo. I saw him once. He
came to the kitchen entryway to compliment
the food. The way he looked at Judy, he took her
in the palm of his hand and stroked
her across the forehead like a gerbil. Man, she
would have taken him right there
on the mats. No one kisses my ass, you know. Some
of the waitresses are nice; they ask, “How’re you feeling? Did
you have a good Christmas?” It sucked. Thank you.
They think they’re good people, asking
about my day off. Why don’t you help me
clean these fucking mats? Let’s see you covered
with chicken chunks and eggplant marinated. Let's watch you
wrestle these mother--fuckers
over the goddamn fire escape. Fingers shriveled
in cold water as I squeeze the hose, I throw back my head
to the crisp March sky, and scream
“FUCK YOU!” at the stars. The universe
doesn’t even yawn, just
keeps rolling endlessly through itself.
A Poem About The Ocean
The traditional response
would be a lament.
The image of a man standing on a block of ice
in the middle of the North Atlantic,
into the frozen Arctic wind. How
when she finally got home that night,
she seemed awkward.
Her cheeks were pink
and how her little rayon sundress shone translucent
around her thighs
in the light of the doorway.
"Turn some lights on," she said impatiently.
"Where have you been?"
And she would not look at me.
She had to ride with Brian because his wife
was in New York,
said they stopped at his hotel,
so he could get a sweater.
"You went to his room?" "Just for a minute."
"What's going on?" "Nothing."
But it was well past midnight
and when she went to take a shower,
I rifled through her stuff,
the little dress -- barely a handful,
the papers in her bag -- nothing
and then her black lace panties.
But this was not the first time
I felt small before her.
And this is not intended as the block of ice
but the image of a child
having only just discovered the ripples
of light in the bathtub,
standing on a beach, looking out at the vast curve
of the horizon.
For, the real story starts years before
on top of a hill,
wine and bread in the late summer clearing.
She lay naked against the hillside,
the valley spread out below us.
The sky moved in slow September clouds.
I fumbled with the button on my trousers,
leaving the socks on my feet.
She shivered as I kissed her neck
and down the shoulders.
I lay my head between her breasts,
could hear her heart, and in the space
between the beats, how small we are,
stretched out naked to the world,
was supposed to drive myself into her, and I wondered
how it came to be, me and her,
here on this hill above the September valley,
but she was waiting, and this was the moment,
and I was the one.
I held myself bluntly between her legs
and everything was sinking
into the hillside.
She squinched and stiffened
eyes tucked together
and then open boldly as if to say
Get on with it!
Lucy has written her life story
on hospital place mats.
Twelve years, two thousand dollars a week
in soft rooms. She
tried to get them typed, but the doctor
took everything. He said
she would only upset herself. At least
that’s what she told me that day
in the park. It was that kind of sky
you get in late September – the livid blue
that only comes when every drop
of moisture freezes on apples
and the yellow blooms
of squash or pumpkin – as children yelled
over by the monkey bars. I need to believe
someone writes it all down,
not just the atrocities -- soccer fields covered
in fresh turned soil, photographs hanging
on subway kiosks -- but placemats
scribbled with crayon, yellowing
in a hospital file cabinet, as the sun sets
over trees, and the light fades on Lucy
and me and the children arguing
by the sandbox.
He wakes late to find that as he slept
he’s been touched by the whisper – by the images
of his dreams – a seagull
bending toward a curving ocean. Nothing’s
different. He mutters to himself. He
shaves, makes coffee, plods
through some stale bread. But
sitting on the bus it’s clear. He can feel things --
passengers hunched in their seats, bent. Lauren
who just got braces, believes people can see
through her clothes. Tommy, the all-night mechanic
sifts through the lies, praying “God,
let me keep them straight when I get home.” Why,
do we talk to ourselves like this – rummaging
through the fragments. Jonathan, his head
in his palms, imagines
a day when every bill comes due. “Hey…”
he realizes, and this is the part that’s new, “If we
are gall going to waste this bus ride, talking
to ourselves, looping
through the old, over and over, why not
imagine something wonderful -- an orange sunset,
a sleeping child’s soft breath
– something excellent. And so he rises
from his seat and clears
his throat, so that everyone looks up
from their phones. But then he can’t think,
of how to begin.
Imagine A Man
Let’s say he’s standing
on the blade
of an iron sword suspended
over a vast chasm -- at the bottom
wait jagged shards. The man
wears headphones and listens
to a recording of voices
that whisper to him, tell him
he commands a great army. But
perhaps that is too dramatic. What if,
instead he was covered
with something as simple
as a gray wool blanket.
Imagine, we walk around, each of us,
covered by these blankets.
We grumble how the dust makes it
tough to breath, and
about bigger eyeholes. Or
what if we just
drink coffee on that bench
under the apple tree,
feel the mist rising
as leaves fall around us.
Even Now, My Dear
Even now, my dear Futility,
as longer days bring red buds
to the tip of every branch, and sparrows
dive among the melting drops
to gather seeds, revealed
by the receding ice, I see you
in line, waiting
to pay for your sandwich. You
pretend not to notice,
in that tweed coat, holding
like an estranged uncle, for
you know that long
after the sparrow dies,
the tree falls, is cut into chunks
and put into the woodstove; even the ice
turns to water, becomes mist
and dissipates, you know
that you and I, Futility,
will meet at the lunch counter. You will
quietly buy me a cup of coffee.
No need to stand
by the wet fire escape and scream
obscenities at the stars,
for I recognize you,
your faint smile,
as the lone survivor comes to recognize
he will not make the shore,
and for the first time he sees
how the moon alights
upon a slow black ocean.
Do You Ever
Do you ever lie on your back
in the damp grass
Stare into the universe,
the particles of debris
skipping across the ozone.
Once I saw three stars
in a perfect line
and for one, fine, splintered second, I could feel
the extraordinary intelligence-
every crooked twig,
of cow-chomped dandelion.
The young man in
the Black Sabbath t--shirt
waits his turn
to be photographed
with the Easter Bunny
in the Price Chopper produce
section. The girl
in the bunny suit
feels like shit. She
stayed up way too late
drinking with her oldest
friend. They drank themselves
off all their clothing and
explored each other like
children. The friend
is smiling in the bathroom
painting her toenails. The rabbit
will try to let her down
gently, and still
fast enough for anyone