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Job Interview as Carbon Dioxide

by Eric Howard

We offer you a fast-paced, result-orientated

environment with a guaranteed raise in temperature.

Tell us a little about yourself. What makes you unique?

My arms stick out a hundred and eighty degrees. I work

directly with breath and death, zesty beverages and fire,

Brahma and Shiva, fermentation and your momma’s dough.

I’m the tingle you get from laughing. Point zero three on

the inhale, but I’m up to five percent on my way out.

I play a vital role in the plant life of the oceans,

and soon I will clothe the princes of the sea with trembling.

Tell us of a time you solved a problem creatively.

One summer before college my friend Gabriel helped me

get a sales job. Folding chairs and tables with touch-tone phones

with gray buttons, the script, the logs, cheap pens in cups. It took

an hour to learn. Thirty of us and Supervisor Sheryl.

So the problem was it got boring quick. But Gabriel—

may his blessings be remembered with reverence forever—

knew somebody that couldn’t make it to the Dead concert

and had sheets—sheets! of acid to sell. All pockets emptied.

Such is the Priestly power of a beautiful young queer.

The next morning we divvied and dropped in the parking lot.

Around 9:30 Sheryl starts calling bulging faces

to her desk. Trying not laugh they all say things are fine,

but the whole room, except for her, was pseudobulbar.

“Hello, Mr. Blank? I’m happy to tell you...that…you…duude…

you may have won….” Mr. Blank said, “I don’t think it’s funny

for you to call me up and laugh.” “Oh, yeah? Well, no time share

in Vegas for you then, goodbye.” Productivity may

have slowed that day, but that was a time that I—well, OK,

my friend, maybe I should have told a different story—I

helped dissolve proletarian problems creatively.

Well. We see on your resume that you have thirty years,

ten months, and five days of experience as a loser

since you just stood there like a fool the time that Dreamboat Love

asked you to dance. How do your electrons handle defeat?

I sublime. The world would be a colder place without me.

My brand impact hasn’t been this high since the Miocene.

I’m diffusing into the liquids of your brain right now.

The urge to breathe is where I start. A little more, and bad

decisions come. A little more, unconsciousness. Then death.

What kind of generational curse are you looking for?

Like most people, I have sat at the Wednesday staff meeting

and had the revelation that with a gun and spare mags

I could performance review them all; for Israel’s crimes

Ammon, Edom, Moab, and Philistia too will fall.

What makes you the best candidate? What LSD taught me

is we are nodes on infinite harp strings of energy;

our minds are but fleeting angels of electricity,

and that on a touch tone phone you can play “Louie Louie.”

Do you have any questions for us? Yes, did freeways spring

from laboratory bell jars? Did Charles II laugh

and laugh to hear his boffins were striving to weigh the air?

Let me answer for you. A dollar bill weighs just a gram,

but I weigh three trillion tons, and I already work here.

About the Author

Eric Howard lives in Los Angeles and works as an editor and writer. His collection of poems, Taliban Beach Party, was published by Turtle Point Press in 2017. His poems have appeared in Birmingham Poetry Review, Caveat Lector, Conduit, Gulf Stream Magazine, Hawaii Pacific Review, Plainsong, and The Sun.

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