“. . . civilization obtains mastery over the individual’s dangerous desire . . . by setting up an agency within him to watch over it. . . .”

—Sigmund Freud

It’s the square government 
building knocked together 
by the low bidder,
the carpeted lobby, in khaki, 
and a few stone urns,
their throats stopped with sand, 
snuffed cigarettes and gum wrappers.

It’s always 9 or 3 o’clock, 
the right angles of the day, 
too late to be early
or too early to think 
about going home
to sit at the west window
of your apartment near the river, 
a cold beer, dusk
on the boulevard,
the evening traffic and the last barges 
mingling their lights,
No, you can’t think of that this early, 
you’11 go crazy.

The file cabinets are jammed, 
drawers like messy nests
of trash birds, grackles and starlings, 
everything saved, everything in duplicate 
that no one will ever want.

Please, no eating at your desks. 
The bureau chief hates the office 
to smell of hot mustard or chili, 
the cozy musk of popcorn 
encourages gabbing
and the gyros from the Greek place 
have embarrassed three reports 
with permanent stains of grease.

No loud talking or laughing.
The agents’ memos must be filed
by late morning and again early evening. 
In the yawning of the afternoon,
you might walk to the window, 
which is sealed to control 
everyone’s comfort.

You might look out
if you promise not to notice 
the couple in the little park,
under the big hands of the sycamore, 
the red of her skirt, his open collar.