Caleb Puckett


The memoirist signed limited edition copies of his best-selling book, Confessions of an Undercover Identity Thief, with his nom de plume and I was lucky enough to locate a personally inscribed copy of the work on an online auction website this afternoon. As usual, the book was offered by a seller with an assumed name, but I wasn’t concerned since it comes with a certificate of authenticity that protects my investment against fraud. After all, I’m nobody’s fool.

A Libertine Prophesizes to His Paramour

Virgin partner, temptation buys time with a crisp wine sipped in lisping translation and an early rise from the lodge of retirement. Variable partner, time buys coping, a cure and a defense of continuation with tears on the exposed shoulder that moderates traffic on an expressway gridlocked with migrating penguins. On that icy road from home to cell, your alphabet will operate like a sheepish, domesticated wolf with the defect of human dependency and your study of copyright policy will function as a snail on a fork that supports the precedent of nowhere in a minefield of salt crystals. The only wild luxury of the brain at that point will be the expectation of sabotage. A degenerate consensus will then shape the galaxy. In kind, paradise will become a colony where we eat violins instead of mints and newly mint the coinage of time with brands on the tips of our tongues. Your sole swearword in that realm will be either “percentage” or “trusty”. At that moment we will finally become friends, partner, without any benefits but those associated with masked enmity and desperate comingling.

Human Resources

Remember your charge? In the event of fiscal difficulties, you must take charge. You must dispassionately examine the data. You must immediately notify your superiors and subordinates. You must provide a sign-up sheet. You must provide a sign-in sheet. You must secure the room. You must turn the handle carefully. You must exude gravity. You must exude compassion. You must situate them in chairs. You must order them to form rows in terms of their size and relative strength. You must rank them. You must class them. You must apprise them. You must appraise them. You must confiscate their ID cards. You must watch their postures. You must watch their eyes. You must know their minds. You must walk casually as the chairs creak. You must introduce them to the idea of tiered furlough dates. You must introduce them to the idea of tiered expiration dates. You must introduce the concept of loss. You must introduce the concept of solace. You must watch closely as the chairs creak. You must watch the movement of their feet. You must watch their shoes gleam. In the event of fiscal difficulties, you must take charge. Remember your charge? You must base your reductions of salary, stature and syllables on the graduated ratios defined by performance expectations and merit evaluations retooled to fit the rubric of fiscal emergencies. Be sensible. Be sensitive. You must base them on an objective basis. Remember the policies. Remember the regulations. Communicate them. Communicate to them. Continuous service? Length of service? Anniversary dates? Holiday dates? Servicing of dates? Authorized time on the clock and time to leave for leave lost. Promote peace. Lock the doors if need be. You must avoid coughing. You must avoid scratching. You must avoid sweating. Exude control. Exude comfort. You must document you decisions in writing. You must turn away carefully. You must develop amnesia to sleep as the bed creaks. You must forget their charges. You must speak vacantly as the light surges. You must do this all to keep the power on. The white noise is warm, after all.

Caleb Puckett lives in Kansas. He has pieces in Counterexample Poetics and Wheelhouse, among others. His prose collection, Tales from the Hinterland, is available from Otoliths.

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