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New poem: Workers of the World... Fragment...


The harsh beep of the alarm clock

destroys our dreams,

we force our eyes open

splitting the crust at the seams.

Rusty we stand – shaken, brave,

weak, scared,

curing the scars and bruises

for the day and night shifts,

burying a billion excuses to call in sick

our subconscious scratching at the stitches

so carefully woven

over a thousand past lives

with the threads that sometimes

barely hold us together.

We do some restitching for the

every hour, every day raid

where we count down

the hours to break time

when we rush off to toilet cubicles

to lay cables to electrify our dreams,

fantasising about

broken nosed bosses,

smashed computer screens piled high,

machine gunning co-workers,

desks, customers and pens

dripping in our piss as we

expel our final revenge

and then we plant one on person

we shared so many silent, unrealised,

flirtatious glances with

and driving off into the distance

like we're a Bruce Springsteen song

made live with pulsing flesh and dignity.

But a flush destroys these meanderings,

and heads hung low in dread

we grumble in marooned harmony:

I'm only working here

because I need the fucking money”

The strangling tentacles of retail are disguised

with a semi-casual dress code,

and they bode unhappy ends

for those that're lured

by 20% staff discounts

(except on sale items, obviously).

Stacking gondolas

that're rooted, unbudged

in the muddy ocean,

stained with sweaty tears

that reek fear of rent arrears.

Jimmy here started working in Whore Megastores

when he was sixteen.

He worked part-time throughout school

until he went to university

to study English Literature and Philosophy

when he was eighteen.

This is what he said at the time:

I'm really passionate about learning

independently. After uni,

I hope to go to teacher training

college so I can pass on my knowledge

to a new generation”

Jimmy is now forty-five,

and works full time at Whore Megastores

as an assistant manager.

When interviewed last week, he said:

Well, the teaching thing didn't really happen,

but working here has allowed me access new interests,

such as organising the Christmas party,

fixing the staff rotor so I always have New Year's Day off,

and shiny red four ninety-nine stickers”.

James' subjugation

shines through dulled irises

as the tentacles reaching into his cranium

suck out extraneous dreams and hopes.

His area manager – a grotesquely fat man called Ivor Pie

with a face like the flesh of burnt marshmallows -

caresses and tickles the tentacles

and whispers sweet nothings

into air-holes of the oily, purple flesh.

The tentacles grin by hardening and pulsating,

and suck harder at the brains in gratitude.

Ivor rubs a gleeful hand

over his folded and refolded stomach

and shoots daggers at James

(the aforementioned assistant manager).

James instinctively takes off his T-shirt

and bends over,

allowing Ivor to snort a huge road

of one part Peruvian cocaine

three parts baking soda off his blistered, breaking back.

As soon as the powder fireworks his ego,

Ivor kicks James into a pile of blank anonymous products.


he screams as he makes his wobbly exit.




James stands, shaken, brave

weak, scared

and faces the coagulating, whinging hoards of public,

who moan about out of date midcore pornography

and demand refunds on lottery tickets

because they didn't win.

A dull pounding somewhere

in the back of his brain

thumps out of his mouth:

a shriek of useless marooned harmony:

I'm only working here

because I need the fucking money”.

Ivor Pie now reeks of pastry

and the death of souls.

It's Friday night,

and he disappears amongst

the faceless cock rummaging

masses who infest this dingy hovel.

All the men here are a creepy combination

of silent leering and crass cheering

as the tits and arse dance

dispassionately on the stage,

ageless stiletto gyrations on automatic

stiffening the twitching pricks.

Banknotes float on the smoke

of rusted power-driven lust

and become one with G-strings.

The music, some shitty house number,

pumps and numbs almost all other sound

to the dancers in their own world

of neon skin rhythms.

Some of them enjoy it,

some of them don't,

and it's unfortunate that Felix Ripper,

an estate agent from Hackney,

decides to make a grab for Helen

who, it must be said,

doesn't enjoy it.

Head thick with cheap champagne

and three parts baking soda

he puts Jack's mask of brashness on

and as Helen feels his rankling fingers grasp her ankle

she turns and fixes him.

His face frozen, reflecting everything she fears and hates:

another cunt filled with venal venom

and a twisted entitlement

too much money

and too little respect

running through his veins.

Like a rebel Atlas kicking away

the foundations of heaven and Earth

and letting them crumble into space

every raw memory

rushes up inside her

like she's just double dropped

and her senses pop, then explode

and split and rip into raging, burning fragments

and everything blanks

and she before they they have the chance to reassemble

she's driving one of her stilhetto heels

deep into his eyeball

harder and harder and harder and harder

feeling muscle give way to more muscle

as his addled brain is punctured

and the last thing Felix hears

before the final shutdown

is her screaming

in marooned harmony:

I'm only working here

because I need the fucking money”.

It's why we're drinking away sores

and rioting in hammered high street small scale wars,

all for the elemental relief of the beer, the sweat

and sticky floor,

sponging up our psychosis,

then wringing ourselves dry

to forget about the next day's shackles

and while the tie noose

hangs us from the gallows suit

we stagger down to

the jam-packed underground

which swells with sweaty, rage-prickled skin

and bulges with comedown weekend sins.

We're a thousand Orpheuses

hopelessly marching into the underworld

to reclaim damned damsels.

We hold up candles,

we squint eyes,

but find no psychopomps,

just the diminuendo throb

of our former consciousness

as we watch flickering

scrunched up faces against plastic windows

rattle past, and darkly vanish.

Banished to drag out battle-worn shields

to block out the pulsing pain that reels behind

and belies blank, bloodshot, coffee-slapped eyes

that occasionally look up to try and find a sky

and silently scream

in marooned harmony:

I'm only working here

because I need the fucking money”.


workingcaptain of the rantpoetryspoken word

New poem: Hollow Hymns ►


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Sun 3rd Apr 2011 16:48

I couldn't begin to say how much I've enjoyed reading this! Especially loved ,"It's why we're drinking away sores,and rioting in hammered,high street,small scale wars".

Got goosebumps when I got to that bit!Fabulous,and socially relevant for this time!

Steve Smith

Sun 6th Mar 2011 19:25

A wonderful narrative - well done!
"Marooned harmony" doesn't work though "harmonise with those silent screams" ...maybe.
Any way it's a wonderful sinewy rope of visions.

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Laura Taylor

Thu 24th Feb 2011 09:54

I really like this - reminds me of earlier Irvine Welsh writing. Love the 'cultural' [;)] references, the almost-dirty realism, can see Ivor Pie and his ilk, and I do love a nice bit of sneering contempt now and again :D

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