The Gathering

A fleeting look
The bag, the book, the schedule
The speakers, the rooms
What’s in the bag. Keep the Schedule.
Ah sales. That’s a nice sample
Do I need this? Do I keep this bag,
Or give it away
As I will hand over the things
They honour me with to say
what I have learned, what I know
To keep them entertained, aglow

The food must be good surely
It was iffy the last time I was here
but that was another conference
not this one, its not the same
It is always the same and
never the same of course
Where are you from
What do you do
Where does your influence lie
Is it money or is it more
Are you someone will you be one
Are you going to make it all better?
Oh, a celebrity, of course
A familiar face blurring into
All the famous ones

Friends all, we have known each other for years
Many leagues apart
The league of the famous, the pretty
The achievers, the years of sweat polished away
The smile that touches the eyes,
The handshake that does the job
Laughter, fleeting too, as the moment is smoothed
The unasked question
Can you make it better? For me, for mine?
Can I make it to yours
Will it be worth the effort, Is there a connect
An idea, a shared vision, a spark that says
We can grow each other
Or do we just melt away
With promises of shared sunsets that
melt into nothingness even before the voices
have faded, moving on swiftly to the next

Where are you from? What do you run?
Where do you run to, where does it come from?
Do you care, even care to know
How hard it is to stand here with you
A smile, a tinkle in my voice
Telling you – it’s mine, it’s more than nice
It is my work, my future, it is me
How can you not care, is there any other way to be?
I pretend to care too,
Experience tells me quick
Here is one who is useful, here is one too slick
Here is one who may connect
And another who shows promise fine
A pipeline to seed, a pipeline to breed
Isn’t this what we do here in our time?

“That was slick”, I smiled as I saw her play
The older gentleman whose business held sway
On her area, she – who had just learnt to cling
She’d played it well
I was admiring of her swing
One’s got to do what one must do
Her smile carried a note of bling
Melting into the chatter around
Making a music that we would recognise
With a pang for this is the rhythm to
Which we all sang

Where are you from, what do you do
Ah, here’s my card, yours? Ah, how far you flew
To make this moment of connect
The clink metaphorical a tool to detect
Will the registers roll, will there be any affect
Shallow promises cast under chandeliers bright
Leave no shadows, troth no plight
We smile as we move away
Uncaring, I wonder. Is my lipstick still all right?

They gather in cliques and you wonder about it
Is there a point in asking where you fit
The groups gather and break to mingle
You wander as if you are a diaspora single
Fitting into all, and yet into none
Till you see the eyes of each and every one
Seeking a connect, lost in a crowd
Yet knowing how to don the confident shroud
You join the game, you play it smooth
You glide through it, you pass through good

Till the moment of truth when you’ve make it click
All your checkboxes have received their tick
Your job is done, you’ve cast your spell
And now it’s time to retreat to your shell
But, oh, the others are still casting their net
You smile to the end, escape all in mind
Finally, It is done Time to unwind.

( I don’t think this is a poem, it is a breathless cameo of a typical conference. Has any one conference been exactly like this? No. Have they all been like this? Yes)


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