no wings yet, Charlie
bed and bored born and bread
the warehouses and supermarkets yawning you in.
ashtray digger, you cum in the mouths of raggedy babes
and lose loves that weren’t yours to lose, aye
but the pot-bellied divorcee sneers
as you put it in
after a double-shift
and you sneer right back,
your pot bellies rubbing
like two back-to-back warehouse shifts:
it’s like some sort of farm.
everyone’s a farm
on everyone else’s land.
land, land …
outer space? just another theoretical thing to shame ourselves with.
no wings yet, Charlie.
wingless arms bruised from the supermarket
flogging under the landlady’s orange brick shadow.
bung her a couple of quid extra when you can:
she’ll look the other way when you leave a wine ring
on the bedside dresser.
she’ll look the other way
when you put it in,
sneering at the dresser
this Cheshire yeast
the worst part about waiting for the jobcentre to open
is not when some fat whelp pushes in front of you
and you ask him politely to do one
and he uppercuts you
and it’s not when you leave the queue
and go stand at the bus stop opposite,
to massage your jaw and despair in peace
while the queue points and yells from across the road
calling you a faggot and whatnot
it’s not when the jobcentre doors open
and you watch the queue charge in
and you can’t be bothered to follow
since you’ll only be rejected anyway
and it’s not when a spindly dude
in the beigest anorak ever
crawls out from under the bus stop bench,
takes a pair of women’s knickers out of said anorak’s pocket
and offers you a sniff of them –
it’s not even when you look down at a puddle,
at your own bleeding reflection, wondering
what kindship the fellow in the beige anorak sees in you –
the worst part
of it all
is when you tell him:
fat stupid people.
fat stupid jobless people.
fat stupid jobless people pushing prams.
fat stupid jobless people pushing prams laden with fat stupid kids.
fat stupid jobless people pushing prams laden with fat stupid kids
you want to stand your ground
but since you’ve already committed
several thought crimes
since spotting them
it’s clearly not your ground to stand on:
the kerb beckons for
but next shift? when they spit on you
while you scan their groceries?
the karmic balance will be realigned
or at least knocked back to
whatever position it was
you reckon as
you avoid a car.
Paul Tanner was shortlisted for the Erbacce 2020 Poetry Prize. He is the author of “Shop Talk” (Penniless Press, 2019), “No Refunds” (Alien Buddha Press, 2020) and “Working Class Zero” (Dreich Publications, 2021).
Post a Comment