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There's No Soul in Retail

by niteowl


The oceans of the soul
vanish beneath the surface
of Hi, how are you,
are you finding everything okay?


They need you to be a superstore GPS
and Wikipedia rolled into one,
magically knowing everything
about fish and foundation and flowers.

You need them for the paycheck,
and in the best case scenario,
you don't remember each other's faces
after Thank you for shopping with us!
Have a great day!

A/N: This is from a NaPo in 2017. Original prompt was from the Poetic Line Generator: "The oceans of the soul vanish beneath the surface"


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Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:57 am
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Morrigan wrote a review...



Niteowl with the truth, as always.

This is the perfect length, but also I want more of it. Validate my sad retail experience!

Your use of italics for the copypasta retail worker speech is nice because it gives it a surreal feeling, and what about retail isn't surreal?

The GPS stanza is my favorite because it's true. I've said to customers recently, "let me ask my good friend, Google."

I think my only critique of this piece lies in its simplicity. I see that the generated line was "The oceans of the soul vanish beneath the surface." That's a line and a half, man. The rest of your poem doesn't fit the tone of the prompt. I would suggest either tweaking the prompt, or tweaking the rest of the poem to fit the prompt a little more.

You have an opportunity in the GPS stanza to match tone a little more. Instead of "fish and foundation and flowers," you can totally replace it with something that matches the tone of the first line a little more. Get a little more detailed, ridiculous, or flowery. What if they need you to magically know everything about the rainbow scales of fish flowing overhead? Or about the triangle of distance from earth to sun, from sun to moon? Give me a little more here.

This is a tiny little nitpick, but "you don't remember" is a little clunky. Go for the "you forget" instead.

Altogether, I feel validated and not alone in this retail heckscape. Good poem, good job, and I hope you're having a good NaPo. <3

(also, hello, I'm alive!)




niteowl says...


OMG HI! And yeah, that is an interesting suggestion. I didn't really tweak this too much from the 2017 NaPo, but that could be an interesting avenue to explore. I don't do retail anymore, but I do have to do some customer service stuff, except it's car related and I don't know jack about cars.



Morrigan says...


Do you know much about car jacks? ;)



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Thu Apr 25, 2019 5:22 am
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FlamingPhoenix wrote a review...



Hello, FlamingPhoenix here with a few things to say about your poem, I'll try to make it short. i will also try and help get this work out the green room.

Let's start.

So I'm happy to say that I couldn't see any thing wrong with this poem, I thought it was written really well and I just loved reading it. I could feel all the emotion you were trying to put across, along with the meaning behind the poem, and I'm glad I got to read this, because I never thought of the job in this light. I thought working in stores was easy, but I was proven wrong with this poem.

I'm glad I got the chance to read and review this poem, and help get it out the green room. I thought it was really well written, and I loved everything about it, to the meaning to the emotion. I hope you will keep writing and posting on YWS! Have a great day or night.

Your friend
FlamingPhoenix.
Reviewing with a fiery passion.




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Tue Apr 23, 2019 1:29 am
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Alexcarmine58 says...



I really liked the message of the poem and how marketing and retail are currently. The poem while short still delivers a powerful message.

I also find the lines of dialogue interesting.The italics are also very neat




niteowl says...


Thank you!



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Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:23 am
1nspire wrote a review...



Hey, 1nspire here for a review!

I liked the point of view of this poem; people take workers for granted often and it’s interesting to read from that perspective. I’ve never though my about how hard it must be for people working in stores (it seems like a simple job), so this poem made me look at the career in a new way.

I think that capitalizing a few of the lines (for example the first in the second and third stanzas) was would improve the piece grammatically.

Other than that, great work!




niteowl says...


Thanks for the review. Yeah, it looks like I mixed up caps and no caps, and I should edit to be consistent.



niteowl says...


And yes, retail is easy in many ways, but hard in others. Most able-bodied people can stock shelves and bag groceries, but people are just weird and unpredictable and ask the darndest things. And in this job I was also supposed to take the customer to the item (as opposed to just saying "oh it's over there"), which is hard when I'm not sure where the item is haha.



1nspire says...


I definitely understand, I would never know where anything is...




I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
— Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest