Monday, June 15, 2015

Charles Rammelkamp


"Nothing says confidence
like a brand-new suit and tie,"
the voiceover in the Men's Wearhouse ad declares,
as if God speaking to Moses,
outlining fundamental truths.

So full of doubt,
if it were helium,
I'd float away,
I wonder if I should buy
some clothes to bolster my ego.

I think of my old boss
in his crisp pinstriped suit,
the self-assurance he exuded like oil;
the firm grips of politicians
working a line of voters
with their charm, their "charisma";
government officials who refuse
to admit to disastrous policy mistakes.

And I remember my friend Ken
speaking derisively of "suits,"
empty imaginations draped in expensive clothing:
stuffed shirts, idiots making decisions,
he a doctor who routinely saved lives
in his modest blue scrubs.

Charles reads "Confidence":

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Charles confesses: "One morning at the gym as I dressed after my swim I heard this ad in a commercial break on ESPN, and it made me laugh. Those overhead monitors at the health club themselves may as well be Mosaic stone tablets! Of course, I remembered the mantra, "dress for success." My college roommate, a hand surgeon in Oklahoma City, whose good liberal instincts are an anomaly in that red state, had worked tirelessly after the McVeigh bombing to repair mutilated limbs without thought of being rewarded. A child of the counterculture Sixties, Ken knew that it wasn't clothes that made the man."

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP lives in Baltimore. His latest books are Fusen Bakudan (2012) from Time Being Books, Mixed Signals (2014) from Finishing Line Press, and Mata Hari: Eye of the Day (2015) from Apprentice House. He edits an online literary journal called The Potomac.

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