Pectoris Corp.

A Spoon River Anthology project in progress, exploring a fictional Swedish medtech company.

WIKIPEDIA: “Spoon River Anthology (1915), by Edgar Lee Masters, is a collection of short, free verse poems that collectively narrates the epitaphs of the residents of Spoon River, a fictional small town named after the real Spoon River that ran near Masters’ home town. The aim of the poems is to demystify the rural, small town American life. The collection includes two hundred and twelve separate characters, all providing two-hundred forty-four accounts of their lives, losses, and manner of death. Many of the poems contain cross-references that create an unabashed tapestry of the community. The poems were originally published in the magazine Reedy’s Mirror.”

Lena Nilsson

Marketing Assistant, Pectoris Sweden AB

Me and the tiles
of the shower room wall.

Slowly undressing
with the shame and disappointment
like two callous hands around my throat.

Breathing close to the tiles
of the shower room wall.

Slowly stepping into the shower
with a dull feeling of great loss
numbing and confusing my mind.

Putting my forehead on the tiles
of the shower room wall.

Slowly turning up the heat of the gushing water
until it burning my skin, replacing
one pain with another, easier to bear.

Oh, the coolness of the tiles
the thin streak of fresh air by the wall.

Letting the minutes pass,
getting my act together.

Stepping out of the shower,
drying my blushing body and covering it with clothes,
putting on makeup and my shiniest smile,
opening the door
– ready to take on the life that I had been given.

Klas Björnström

Marketing Director, Sweden

Monsieur Migraine,
as I named my
longtime companion,
always reminded me
when I had pushed myself
too far.

While my colleagues
had the constitution
to manhandle themselves
towards the quarterly goals
of the company
in the long evenings
of the office in shadows,
I had to give in
to the devilish pulsating pain
behind my left eye,
the nausea and the weird numbness
in my arm.

Many times I fell asleep
under my office table
or in the backseat of my car
in the corporate parking lot
instead of fighting in the peloton
on the road leading upward.

I remember the day
when the CEO turned to me
to address his disappointment.
And I looked at him
and saw the beauty of it all:
his stern face inside a
glorious, flickering aura
– the vision of saints.

Peter Johnson

Production manager I-plug™, Pectoris IT

Everything was set:
I intended to turn grey
in the most dignified manner.

Three hard-working sons
with M.Sc. and wifes.
A well-managed plant,
and a well-tended home.

A respectful everyday life
with my sensible wife;
under the influence of wine
we could still light the flame.

How proud in my naivety,
how vain in my innocence:
in my folly I thought
good things awaited
good people;
I took all this for reality.

But thene came this
autumn where we briskly
were moved
to another place,
a place of
prostate enlargement
my eldest son’s divorce
dysplasia,
moisture damage,
and a conflict with my sister
over the inheritance.

Lines and furrows,
where drawn across my face,
the family conversation
petered out
and I was not man enough
to stand tall
in the face of adversity.

You, who I once held so dear:
forgive me if I lost my dignity.
I hope someone else
could give you the answers
you lacked.

Malin Skogberg

Accounting clerk, Pectoris IT

Voices without faces,
lost in choral bliss.

Händel, Bach, and Pärt
dissolved our
personal histories
and replaced them with a
joint present,
turned all our narratives
into one singular now.

We were waves,
in a green sea,
flickering rays
from the dying sun,
clouds drifting
across the
sky of June.

As time passed
my work and its people
mattered less for each year,
so did my husband
or the children we never had.

All I wanted
was to be a nameless brick
in a solid wall of beauty,
devoid of all individual freedom.

Maria Käck

Controller, Pectoris Business

It was a most ordinary day,
under a plain, grey sky,
that I read the lines
that changed it all.

Those lines in my diary.
I repeat: my diary.
Not his diary.
My diary.

A bitter little note
questioning why
I must put up with his
lack of tenderness,
his impertinent replies
his vitriolic sarcasm.

And I saw the date
and realized
nine years
had passed.

Nine years of me
being silly enough to believe
that anything would ever change,
Nine years of hoping,
it’d be better down the way.

This ludicrous hope:
the only way
to keep it up
for the sake
of the children
as hours, weeks
and years passed.

But I read
that line in my diary
and I moved on.

Axel Krona

Senior vice president, Pectoris IT

I was a mean unit mover,
closer of deals,
handler of contracts.
shaker of hands.

I became a ladder climber,
face kicker,
shit talker,
side taker.

My glory grew,
I was the toast bringer,
fortune handler,
rival slayer.

But rough times came
– and I was the
sacker of men
killer of projects,
closer of sites.

When I retired,
and walked down
the concrete path
from the guardhouse
for the final time
a cold wind
followed me home;
it was mine to keep.

Sara Axelsson

Administrative assistant, Pectoris IT

I loved
the smell of graveyards
– of boxwood, arbor vitae
and decaying flowers.

I found meaning
in the geometric order
– the rows of tombs,
the raked gravel.

I felt free
in the absence of sounds,
– like the clapping
of one hand.

But these were no thoughts
that I ever could convey
to these busy minds around me
so occupied with their living.

When I passed
they pitied me
for leaving this
random and disordered place
untimely.

But it all
happened for
a reason,
a reason
they just
couldn’t see.

Julia Solberg

Developer, Pectoris IT

Life was all circumstances
around a hollow core,
all context
and no essence.

Days passing,
sun rising
over our attempts
to live.

And the one kiss
that defined my life
or absence of life
was one day
more distant.

I remember
the eagerness,
the surrender
to the moment,
our teeth
clashing.

O, if only my
front tooth
had chipped,
leaving a
cherished reminder:
… by this,
and this only,
we have existed.

Torbjörn Lundmark

Patent officer, Pectoris Corp.

I was young when I entered
the corporation.
I served it for decades.

Everyone knew me.
I rarely did a mistake
– that made me transparent.

So I became the ghost of the patent office
and no one took notice
to my patient work in a small room
– a cul-de-sac in the career labyrinth
of corridors in the corporation.

They ignored me.
I survived them all.
In this dark place
their gaze still
pierces me.

Bengt Larsson

Senior system manager, Pectoris IT

My colleague’s fifteen year old boy
asked me about CNNs
and feedforward neural networks
– and I didn’t have the slightest idea
what he was talking about.

Punched cards, Fortran
and minicomputers
– my CV had turned
into nostalgia.

My muscle memory
was a ghost living in
museum objects.

Retirement became
an endless
standup meeting
in front of a
kanban board
where the post-it notes
fell like autumn leaves.

The CALL EXIT command
came as a deliverance.

Conny Grönberg

Janitor, Pectoris Production AB

Someone asked:
Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?
My question is:
where is the bare ground of yesteryear?

One winter of Sweden
hard on the heels of the next one
and for each cycle
more sips from the black well
of weariness and doubt.

Snow fell
on snow
that had fell
on snow
that had fell.

I was the one
facilitating movement
with my impatient snow blower
and my perseverant shovel.

Snow fell
on snow
that had fell
on snow
that had fell.

And deep down
under snow
that fell
on snow
that fell
the longing
that once …
looking into
the heart of light,
the silence
… the longing
that once
guided us
during some spring
which now
seems hypothetical.

Iris Lund

Scientific advisor, Pectoris Corporation

I was the unkissed,
with legs like sticks.

But I noted early
that my mind was sharp enough
to slice up any opponent.

And I found a lover
that was not taken,
and I made him
my servant.

He made embryos
sprout in my womb
but they perished
from exposure.

From then and on
the air around me
became bitter
but I gasped for oxygen
in the free space of
academic repute.

I was needed,
but I was shunned.

Everybody knew me,
knew I was their enemy.

I thought
I was glorious,
but Life,
in all its glory,
evaded me.

Bengt Nilsson

Service technician, Pectoris Corporation

Promise and cancel,
promise and cancel
– that was the way of my mother.

I learned to enjoy the anticipation
and swallow the resentment;
the sweetness lingered with me for a while,
the bitterness was sharp and short.

Promise and cancel,
promise and cancel
– that was the way of her I met.

Promise and cancel,
promise and cancel
– we turned it into a family tradition

Until no one trusted anyone
and the sweetness was as insipid
as the bitterness.

The old age I was promised
was timely cancelled.

Valter Käck

R&D Engineer Pectoris Corporation

Not acting on impulse,
emotion or indignation.

Not acting under the influence
of substances or – worse –
under the influence of people.

That’s what I call dignity.

When they’ve left
with their opinion and judgement
with their rage and their fury
with their greed and their lust
you’re the only man
standing.

When all is said and done
and broken and torn
and trampled and stained,
the talking silence
is your only companion.

I was tempted
but my hull didn’t breach.

Now my back is straight,
and my sight is clear,
but my heart will remain numb
indefinitely.

Liisa Koivisto

Executive Secretary, Pectoris Corporation

As you all know it
I can freely admit it –
I slept with our CEO.

Me unmarried,
he married,
the oldest story in the book.

In this eternal dusk
of the Land of the Dead
I still remember
the brightness of
our Sunday afternoons
at the airport hotel.

Him in a bathrobe
ironing five shirts
for the week to come
in the sharp light
from a halogen lamp.

Me, laying naked
under the covers
watching him
and the specks of dust
above him
floating in the air.

His big, gentle hands,
the grey streaks in his hair,
his boyish concentration
while handling the iron.

Why? you may ask.
Was it for confirmation,
for perfumes and jewellery,
to satisfy my daddy issues?
Or was it to rise over
the rest of you?

No, I would reply.
I did it for the last reason
you could think of:
I did it for love.

But there is little use
in explaining
as no one
wants to understand;
a royal whore,
is still a whore.

•••

David Andersson

Production Technician, Pectoris Manufacturing Division

Those dreams I had
of girls and women
with whom I walked
the path of life
for a while
in some distant
yesterday
—before, after or beside,
sometimes close
but most often
never closer than
my outreached hand.

Åsa, who was
the girl in the ash grove
in a song not intended for me,
the comforting memory
of a lonely wanderer.
Her breath like
strawberries,
her blonde hair
stroking my chest.

Anna, who was
the young woman
of some forgotten lines,
of a forgotten songbok
with whom I walked on
frosted fields.
Her smell of
lavender
her chilly hands
seeking shelter in mine.

For every delightful dream
a rude awakening.
For every wondrous moment
an heavy handed row
of humdrum days.
Caresses exchanged for
a sore back and
cold water in the face.

Cruel dreams:
you not only decieve me.
You also leave
this perpetual longing,
stinging my heart.

Per Ek, Ph.D.

Senior scientific advisor, Pectoris Corporation R&D

Generate profit for our shareholders.

For the whitecollars and top brass
the answer was always obvious.

Generate profit for our shareholders.

It was our lighthouse on the sea,
the shining chalice, the star of Betlehem.

Generate profit for our shareholders.

And there was this spring meeting,
with Marketing and R&D
and it was said again and again.

Generate profit for our shareholders.

And I listened in silence in the back of the room
fixing my gaze on the budding daffodils
behind the panorama window.

Generate profit for our shareholders.

And then I raised my hand and cleared my throat
while I stood up and my eyes swept the room.

Generate profit for our shareholders.

”Gentlemen,” I said. ”If you’re really concerned
with making lots of money
you have made an unwise decision.”

Generate profit for our shareholders.

”If you’re in it for the money,
my recommendation is that you stick to
extortion, drug dealing, and trafficking.”

Generate profit for our shareholders.

Nobody spoke, I could see their bewilderment.

Generate profit for our shareholders.

”To design, manufacture and market technology
which holds the heartbeat of a human
like a child holds a fragile nestling
that has fallen from its tree
is an ill-advised way to
serve those individuals
who have set out to have a
return on their equities.”

I sat down again
and later noted:
from that moment and on
something changed.

Harald Rosencrantz, MBA

Accounting Manager, Pectoris Corporation

I didn’t say anything,
but I noted and remembered
and tucked those memories away.

In a dark crawl space
in a private wing of my brain
there was this little black book
with folded pages and stains
which I browsed daily
to add little entries and comments.

But through the years
it all became undecipherable
even for me.

All these little details of
injustices, offences, wrongdoings
taking place before me
some small and not so small
affecting me, my friends, my enemies –

– it turned into
a vast bitterness,
a caustic taste that
life was passing me by

like the drifting smoke
from a distant house
on a early evening of a
frosty November day.

Peter Himmelstig

Security, Pectoris Corporation HQ

=== work in progress ===

And I have known
their eyes already,
known them all,
guided,
assisted
and helped
them all.

In the passageway
between my little brown cabin
of corrugated sheet metal
and the wirefence,
below the gaze of the
CCTV cameras
on their poles,
they have come and gone.

Some of them
with chin up, back straight,
eyes filled with shining visions,
a chest full of the power to fight,
or with pride or love in their posture.
And the smile of Niklas Nyman,
which withered with the years.

Some of them with
stooping shoulders,
pain in their stomach,
counting the days, counting the days.
And the smile of Niklas Nyman,
which withered with the years.

=== work in progress ===

Ulla-Britta Hedland Leijonstierna

Counselor, contracted by Pectoris Corporation Human Resources

I was the washerwoman.
I washed the guilt from the hands
of managers and colleagues.
I washed the mold from the brand
the stains from the flag.

”Please sit down!” I said.
”The Bruno Mathsson armchair
has a sheep fleece
for your comfort.”
”On the little table,
there is a scented candle
and a box of Kleenex,
should you need blowing
that red little nose of yours.
Don’t be shy;
they are all paid for
by Human Resources.”

“There are pretty pictures on my wall,” I said.
“Let your gaze wander
in those peaceful landscapes,
while you rinse your soul
and hand over your troubles
to my rubber-gloved hands.
Have a little cry,
here you’re safe,
just let it all out.”

And the troubles
were scrubbed from
the corporate corridors.
And the shame was flushed
from the hearts of men and women.
And all these well-paid professionals
felt energetic and merciful.

And silence fell,
and time moved on.

But let me tell you something:
you can remove
the specks and blemishes,
but you can not remove
the bitter taste.

Hans Clause, MBA

Marketing Director, Pectoris Corporation

“Managing difficult people” they say.
I see no difficulty in people.
People are easy to manage.

Are their questions to nosey?
Cut off their tongue.
Won’t they march to the beat?
Chop off their legs.
Do they stare at you in contempt?
Bite off their head.

But tell me:
what is this red, quivering lump
which I find when I rip open their ribcage?

Could someone explain?
Are you withholding something from me?

Axel Liljefeldt, M.Sc.

Product Manager, Hemosync™

At Schiphol, I lost my way.
In truth, it was there I lost my way.

It is a shame I can’t hoist up on to my shoulder.
Or store away (in memory, behind the triteness).
Or desert (among the flames of oblivion)
Or bury (to the blessing of decay)

I was the experienced traveller, subjectively,
and I had oceans of time, nominally,
and it took a while to realise
that I didn’t have a clue
and that time was running out.

I walked a long lonely corridor
interspersed by a fair of vanity and brand names
and I walked a long lonely corridor
interspersed by a fair of vanity and brand names
and I walked a long lonely corridor
and I turned and asked
and hesitated
and stopped
and I looked at the clock
and it urged me ”run, boy, run!”
and I ran a long lonely corridor
and my goat skin briefcase battered my hip
while I ran through a fair of vanity I had seen two times before
and time seeped through all the openings and cracks around me
like the sweat seeped through the Egyptian cotton of my shirt
and into the woolen fabric of my suit (Oscar Jacobson)
where it entered the leather wallet holding my boarding card
dissolving my name and destination

At the crossroads
Between Boss and Hertz
Between Skanska and KPN
I stopped to accept my defeat:
I had missed my connection
and was a no one, a John Doe, a ghost
in the lonely corridors of Schiphol.

My heart was still racing
and a salty drop trickled from my temple
and my face was flushing
with effort, anger and shame.

It was then
I felt the shame in a memory
of a scribbled note from my PE teacher
under my name in the class list.

It said:
“red-cheeked, precocious”