Shy at retirement

The happy ex-executive
Is finished with their woes –
May quaff another malt
When curling up with slippered toes
Can sit and read the papers
Take his breakfast pipe in bed
And when the press come calling, say
‘Ask someone else, instead!’

The happy ex-executive
Has set his suits aside
To walk the dog in comfort
With no other plans to hide
The boardroom doesn’t matter
As he mutters through his day
No longer forced to listen
To the nonsense some might say

The happy ex-executive
Has time to count his chicks
Now grown and flown and flapping hard
For mortar board and bricks
He sits and sips his coffee
That no secretary bears
And wonders why the future
Hangs so often round his ears

The happy ex-executive
Now pastured and put out
The boredom that keeps looming
Moulds his frown into a pout
At four a.m. deciding
That enough’s enough, ‘tis done
It’s time to join a panel;
Find some new oblivion

The happy ex-executive
No longer sees himself
As more than the reflection
Over mantle, mirrored wealth
And what was it he wanted
When he first took on the role
But to see himself rewarded
For team efforts, on the whole

The happy ex-executive
Is feeling somewhat lost
Unsure that it was worth it
Pensioned off as ‘managed cost’
The marks of market forces
Take a little time to fade
But happy ex-executive’s
Already got it made

Cue to Queue

What is the proper etiquette
For declining to bypass security
Measures by walking through
Perspex barriers two-by-two?
I don’t recall, but forcing the issue
By swiping your card made me
Choose – to hesitate and lock
Us both out, or to cheat
And leave you too little time
To cross the line and make it
To the toilet. In my defence
The cat woke me at 4am
Breaking through the bedroom
Door, my lunch leaked in my
Handbag, forcing me to alter
My commute, omitting the exercise
Portion of the early part of my day
So I was barely awake
And very keen to pee
Somewhere other than the
Carpeted corridor. In short, true
Gallantry’s all very well, but
Don’t do it again.
My bladder may not support
The dilemma.

The Reckoning

In these fractions I seek solace
That infarction is no menace
To my own unknown condition
Though my colleague lies on trollies
As they fill her veins with serum
Hoping vasos are dilated
I’m surrounded by the vision
Such careers are overrated
In my secretary’s costume
I must take on further duties
Try to prop up one more rostrum
And ignore last rites for loot. He’s
Working from his home computer
While I ride the bus to nowhere
In the misty morning chatter
That’s conceived to make me go there
How much more am I allotted?
This existence, mere survival
Will I too go out, garotted
By a heart attack unrivalled?
As my logic fails, convince me;
I’ve decisions that are burning
Every inch would rather lynch me
Than continue painful earning.

Although I rarely explain my scribblings, as I prefer to let the reader interpret them at will, this poem, and the one that follows are written in response to a recent event. The woman with whom I share a desk at my day job suffered a heart attack this week. The events on that occasion and which have followed have caused me to question our place in the universe with perhaps more focused ferocity than usual.

Untitled

This is the place we come to die
We secretaries, in our rows
Two frozen stiffs, a living lie
Few care to note, and no one knows.

While patient, we sit out our time
In managing capricious men
Whose fruitless whims, though not malign
Wear lines on brows and fray each hem.

One more may chew on dust this hour
No more to block electric space
In diary; a heart lacks power
To beat a path through empty wastes.

We are not dumb, and yet, we wait
Preparing meeting rooms, hot drinks
Awaiting proof; appreciate
A mind, unheeded, soul that shrinks

And though the autopsy infers
What killed her was nobody’s fault
That one can prove, (except for hers)
With such a sedentary vault

Of memories of closet, desk,
A filing cabinet to store
The means of murder – this slow death
Made up of tedium and chore.

The one man band

Drums his heels on carpet tiles
And sucks his teeth in rictus smiles
While stirring soup with clinking spoon
And slurping tea all afternoon

He hums and taps upon the desk
And clears his throat, his sinus, chest
Expectorating ’til he’s blue
And colleagues ask if he’s quite through

But no, the show is scarce begun
He cocks a cheek and fires a gun
And squealing gases fill the room
To signal choral coughing soon

As he counts in one last encore
The yawning stretch with gaping maw
He dons his coat and hurries hence
Oblivious to audience

Five to five

They’re dropping like flies
As the plague sweeps the ranks
Rows of workstations empty
While telephone banks

Ring loud through the silence
And gathering gloom
As Thursday-night callers
Take turns round the room

One lone operator
Soon pales at the noise
And grasps at the handset
With grimace in place

For over-mic’d trawlers
That given the choice
She’d give neither date
Time, directions, nor voice

It’s almost the hour
That her shift’s at an end
But one final nuisance
Is waiting to rend

The last of her sanity
Ripped down the wire
Complaining injustices
Crude, uninspire

No longer the patience
To handle such groans
She’s wanting her bed
And an end to all ‘phones

Out of Place

I suppose there’s nothing wrong with it
But personally it threw me
I even felt a little uncomfortable
Yes, even I – yours truly

Catching the unexpected sight
That lay betwixt my legs
With knickers heading ankleward
And sleep still in my head

A paperclip in a bowl of white
When you’ve been dreaming half the night
Perhaps in itself not so strange a sight
But staring up at me, not right

The world had lost what sanity
Remained to it – insanitary
Metal curves glinted through the blue-tinted
Water in the bottom of the lavatory.

Now how the hell did that get there?
All sorts of scenarios floated through
The sudden space between my ears
As I gazed in wonderment, sans clue

Out of place as an office tool
In the Monday morning, air-conditioned
Chill of a corporate bathroom stall
At odds with surroundings can be positioned.

A mundane mystery, unmoved here
It can’t be shifted by the flush
Of a girl in a hurry to embrace the pure
Delights of the kitchenette thermos flask

Filled with a mud-like java ooze
And the plastic snap-tub biscuit tin
In individual wrappers snooze
The office worker’s breakfast sin

Bought to bolster her resolve
To tackle the horrors yet in store
With an ever-abundant inbox, filled
Overflowing with weekend’s weighty chore

To help unravel the tangled threads
Of under-worded communications
By those whose double shift’s preparation
For the stats release to the waiting nation.

So what to do with this sad item
Displaced object, much abused
With little now to recommend it
Be retrieved and so, reused…

Poor Clippy, sadly suicidal
Jumped the rim and sank his shame
At such clear speech – misinformation
Too few letters to his name

Made redundant since the Nineties’
Macro software eased our pain
Now enshrined in more than pixels
From his ignominy, fame.