Peggy Landsman, ‘Minimum Achiever’

Minimum Achiever, for years forlorn,
Grew grey and fat and out of fashion;
She wore the jeans she’d always worn,
And swore with passion.

Minimum loved the days gone by
When wars were wrong and songs were moving;
With files from the FBI,
What was she proving?

Minimum sighed for what had been,
And bitched and moaned how nothing lasted;
She longed for one more great love-in,
And dropping acid.

Minimum mourned the hippie years,
The counterculture’s zest and freedom;
She mourned ideals—her sell-out peers
Didn’t seem to need ’em.

Minimum loved her artsy friends,
And swore that she would start achieving;
Her starts were great, but had no ends
And left her grieving.

Minimum cursed the worthless game
And gave it up instead of trying;
She missed her fifteen minutes’ fame,
But wasn’t crying.

Minimum scorned the job she sought,
But how could she survive without it?
Minimum thought, and thought, and thought,
And thought about it.

Minimum Achiever, starting late,
Started out by hesitating;
Minimum knew she shouldn’t wait,
And kept on waiting.


‘Minimum Achiever’ was first published with apologies to Edwin Arlington Robinson in Clockwise Cat.

Peggy Landsman writes: “I started writing ‘Minimum Achiever’ in 1978. Back then, Minimum watched TV: “…She turned and turned and turned the dial,/ but every station showed World War Three,/ modern, nuclear style.” She was also very political: “Minimum loved the anarchists,/ did actions in the name of Emma….”  In the almost thirty years it took me to complete the present version, she went through many changes. The one constant, though, has always been that she is the great-granddaughter of Miniver Cheevy.”

Peggy Landsman is the author of the full-length poetry collection, Too Much World, Not Enough Chocolate (forthcoming from Nightingale & Sparrow Press, 2023), and two poetry chapbooks, Our Words, Our Worlds (Kelsay Books, 2021) and To-wit To-woo (Foothills Publishing, 2008). She lives in South Florida where she swims in the warm Atlantic Ocean every chance she gets. A selection of her poems and prose pieces can be read on her website:

Photo: “For all those low achievers” by Claire_Sambrook is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.


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