HARVEY MOLLOY lives and teaches in Wellington. His poems have appeared in Albatross, Blackmail Press, Bravado, Jaam, NZ Listener, Poetry New Zealand, Southern Ocean Review and Takahe. His first book of poems, Moonshot, was published by Steele Roberts in September 2008. Before training as a teacher he worked for eight years as a writer/information architect.

*   *   *

       The rival

       The rival has copied these words
       into his 1B5 notebook:

       lexie, spicule, sybarites, cloisonné

       The rival now knows these words.
       He takes copious notes.

       *

       His Facebook photo
       thirteen years from now:
       an aluminium framed circular
       shaving mirror; a bone handled
       barber’s razor on a porcelain sink:

       a designer’s conceit.

       *

       Wind the beat back. Not
       at his desk now. Notebook
       open; alt.books.p-k-dick
       window tucked in the taskbar.
       An ordered pile to the right
       of the screen: de facto inbox.
       Site architectures, contact
       reports, design rationales,
       usability test results. Timesheets
       doctored in the client’s favour.

       *

       To the left one Caffé L’affare cup
       chocolate flotsam from the receding
       cappuccino tide above a mud pool bottom.
       Around the monitor a blue-tacked
       flotilla of Babylon 5 ships
       (Starfury fighter, Mimbari cruiser)
       orbit within the screen’s Geekosphere.
       Outside a slate grey Wellington sky.

       *

       A mobile burr
       a single low treble
       phone note, say
       the digit one depressed
       for a second. This number
       means business
.

       *

       Not his mobile. ‘He
       was never one to carry
       a mobile’ which colleague
       after he left said that?

       *

       A week’s completed timesheets,
       each day portioned into fifteen
       minute blocks, each day’s billable
       hours totalled. All looks good
       but how does it match the budget?

       *

       The rival is the one
       who chose this present
       who chose this game
       who managed accounts
       who didn’t notice
       how each contact report
       each billable hour
       will need to be snuffed out;
       who didn’t notice
       how the art of snuffing out will in time
       need to be snuffed out, how
       from a future world the rival’s
       game will need to be dealt to
       in order for the flows to escape.

       *

       Switch off the stereo,
       leave the open plan
       office (studio?) workstation
       to the elevator escape pod.
       Welcome concrete sky.

       *

       Outside,
       yes. Walk a path through
       a tiled park. Council
       sign: slippery when wet.
       Each building has a physical
       address. The Southerly slaps
       the face of the rival.