An Assistant Director

3 min readNov 28, 2021


poem about a co-worker

Nowadays, as the job dwindles
and the barbs sharpen
I watch you in your duties
Ridiculous and knowing
with that thing around your neck
that you unclip and hand me
at the drop of a glance

Blotchy, balding, heavier
than when the job started
Standing straight
through the day
Seeking camaraderie
from camera boys
who’ve learned that
when I rush you
and you hold back,
you do it for crew,
and for your own
loud nasal voice
That it be valued
by its scarcity and precision
Willfully slow
syllables stretched
in that way they like to mock

They don’t really get you,
it stings me to know
When I pledge your case,
they shrug, and drink
You are too foreign
irrevocably alien
They think us childhood friends
They don’t know
that I’ve a decade on you,
that when I fought to have you on
and you drove four hundred miles
from your previous northern gig
I’d barely even met you

You got here and you found
a mission dim with grind
a boss so broken and unable
the palate must’ve soured
the belly must’ve churned
at the thought of seven months
But instead of anything
you shared your troubles
The chronic back pain
the shunned painkillers
and the woman you lost
now a surgeon, in France

You did not rush me
You just don’t
You sheepdogged
my car with yours
on the ringroad
as my pulse spiked
and my skin glued
and my mind gagged
and trucks swung close,
blurred by weeping

On the blistering day
your grandmother died
you sobbed suddenly
for a short while
Then called your folks back
and resumed
reading script with me
in the street level studio
as the sun slammed on
and I struggled to focus

These November weeks
You offer no kindness
to me on set
no deference or kinship
which somehow stokes my standing
more than my own rank does
The few times you are wrong
I hesitate to speak
for it pains me to see
how it pains you
when minutiae escape you
You chafe at indecisions
vanities and nerves
You marvel at my fitful
flashes of solution
You nod at nothing in particular
when I keep or beat the plan
You trust me when I tell you
none of this matters
and fuck them anyways
But of course, it does
Not the story, or the money,
or the schlocky gloss
of actors and ratings
But something else
the chipping away
the evaporating friendships
the brutal whispered cackles
the wordless comms
And the minutes when the crew
breathes as one behind us
and hauls itself over
a rocky overhang
and people go quiet
and no one’s eyes meet
for fear of indulging
in the clickety clack thrill
of having done it right

Two scenes later, it’s forgotten
They climb back on their fences,
they turn away,
roll their eyes, and faun over me
They don’t know what I know.
That while we’re both unsuited
to this mix of glitz and sleaze,
one of us is watching
how the other stands




field freelancer - checkered pasta - rookie witch