Green Hills Literary Lantern




A Good Job


Somehow it’s always that time again,

time for our performance reviews.

N.B.: Mustn’t rate ourselves too high.

Must always find

something wrong to show

we are struggling to correct

that original sin

of needing

to work to live.


Cast an eye to the shelves

over the couch.

I have forgotten to return

so many books

to my friends. As many, maybe,

as have forgotten to return

to me. It’s okay,

you tell yourself,

you’re doing a good job. Curl up

beside curled-up dog;

he has pulled his blanket

up onto the couch

though he is not allowed.


Must you want to do a good job

in order to have a good job, is something

I ask the dog. Just nod.

Why can’t we

be happy with ourselves,

5 out of 5, we are doing our best

at this. Plato notwithstanding,

we never signed up

for this world, never asked

to be. I should like to improve,

pick up

the six habits

and seven tendencies,


I would like to open

all the old books

and have to cut each succeeding page,

and not to have to worry

as I age.




Benjamin Harnett is a poet, fiction writer, historian, and digital engineer. His poetry has appeared recently in Poet Lore, Saranac Review, Juked, and ENTROPY, and is forthcoming in SLANT and the Evansville Review. His short-story "Delivery" was Longform's Story of the Week; he was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in Poetry; and he has been nominated for a Pushcart. He lives in Beacon, NY with his wife Toni and a collection of eccentric pets. He works for The New York Times.