Scoundrel Time

A Trio of Erasures by Erin Murphy

HR Erasure: Policy on Clarity


Use                                          euphemisms.

Be                    ambiguous.

Choose                        your                 own     definitions

for                   words,

your                             own                 geography

of         jargon.             Rightsize

your                             reality.

The      company                                             adjusts.

The                  company

seeks               feedback.

The                  company                                 empowers.

All                   days                 are       not

days.                            All       hours

are                   not       hours.              All       hours

are                         not                   ours.



HR Erasure: Policy on Manager Responsibilities


Violate                        your                             country

and                  principles

every                                                   day.

Learn               that      no                    one

expects                        you                              to                     be

good.                           Business                      must

always                                     come               first.

Avoid                          the                              appearance

of                                                         ethics.

Make                           sure

everyone                     gets                              hurt.



HR Erasure: Policy on Drug and Alcohol Use


Use      alcohol            and      illegal


on                                            company         property

and                  during

working                       hours.

The                  company                                 tolerates

impaired          workers.

You                 are                               under

the                   influence.

You                 are                               under

the                   influence

of                     Human                                    Resources.



Erin Murphy’s eighth book of poems, a collection of documentary poetry focusing on labor and employment issues, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in 2021. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as The Georgia Review, The Normal School, Field, Southern Humanities Review, North American Review, Southern Indiana Review, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. Her poem “Debriefing: A Poem in Parts” won The Normal School Poetry Prize judged by Nick Flynn. She is editor of three anthologies from the University of Nebraska Press and SUNY Press and serves as Poetry Editor of The Summerset Review. She is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Penn State Altoona. Website:





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