After Four of Us Have Been Let Go

for Angela

And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

— from “God’s Grandeur,” Gerard Manley Hopkins

We tip-toe through the office
try not to be seen or breathe too loud,
overcome by a sense of, not quite surprise–
we knew this could be your reaction
when costs are up and profits are down
and the people we call don’t want to buy
tchotchkes[efn_note]tchotchkes are trinkets which are more decorative than functional[/efn_note] since they can’t pay their bills
and had to fire their own people.

We don’t know how to feel.
Should we be relieved it wasn’t us
or afraid that we will be next?
Should we be sad our friends have lost
their livelihood and don’t know where
they will end up, or glad they don’t
have to go through life hating themselves
so you can make another dollar?

We know you like money.
We need it, too. We use it to pay
for our homes and feed our kids
and get to the office so we can
make you some more money.
But we are also living, breathing
human beings with hopes and
dreams beyond your bottom line.

You need us.
You need us to sell your stuff,
and do it with skill and personality.
We need you.
We need you to value our work
and treat us with respect and dignity.

Patrick Connors first chapbook, Scarborough Songs, was released by Lyricalmyrical Press in 2013, and charted on the Toronto Poetry Map. Other publication credits include: Toronto Quarterly, Spadina Literary Review, Sharing Spaces, Tamaracks, and Tending the Fire. His first full collection, The Other Life, was released in 2021 by Mosaic Press. His new chapbook, Worth the Wait, was released this Spring by Cactus Press. His Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. Read other articles by Patrick.