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  • John M. Campbell

On the Occasion of her Retirement

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

I read this poem in a bar in Morrison, Colorado where we met to celebrate Jane Lobby's retirement. She was an engineer who had devoted much of her career as a contractor with the Bureau of Land Management. I entered this poem in a poetry contest sponsored by the Arapahoe Libraries, and it won a prize for humor.


For Jane Lobby on the Occasion of Her Retirement from TRW


I’ve seen it stop a snarling dog, and scare away a bear.

It makes grown men dissolve in tears, and bend their knees in prayer.

I’ve smelled ozone created as it passes through the air.

The force of which I speak can be none but Jane Lobby’s glare.


Some think she learned it in her youth in her New Jersey days.

Some say it’s as natural to her as roses in bouquets.

It’s clear she’s learned to use it in the most astounding ways:

Some claim they’ve seen the marks left by Jane’s penetrating gaze.


Her look is often pitiless when trained upon a fool.

And it can make one feel the size of some small molecule.


One look of Jane’s and you can tell if you’re in her good graces,

Or if that look is sending you to other, hotter places.


The thing I’ve learned, for safety’s sake, to best avoid her ire,

Is take a seat behind, and keep out of the line of fire.


As Jane retires, she’ll shift her gaze to contemplate the stars,

And use it for protection in her favorite biker bars.


John M. Campbell

December 18, 1997


Next poem: Coke vs. Pepsi

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