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

Two cigarettes

17:23

Fingers shaking, she fumbles to light it
Lips quivering, cornflower eyes over-large
Underlined, ringed in runny mascara
Bronzer and orange paint

Long blonde hair fashionably streaked
Hanging down like a dingy waterfall
She clamps her clutch beside her
With a slender elbow, shivers

At unseasonal weather in a short skirt
Trying not to cry, this nymph
Ankles wobble on the too-high heels
Waiting for a bus in the rain

Sucking in gasping lungfuls
She smokes her sadness
Twisting suffering to submission
In a single cigarette

18:02

His rumbling growl is subsiding now
The stream of curse words unbroken
Since he staggered down the aisle
Pushing past each passenger

Heading for the back bench
Of the almost empty upper deck
Something inside him is angry
It cannot keep still or quiet

A familiar double click precedes
The billowing clouds of calm
He thunks a window shut
Clad in a cloak of smoke

That may obscure the world
Of see-through stickers
With their pious proclamation
‘No Smoking’, red ring, slash

The Overlooked

The frostbitten urban landscape equals poetry for the unequal.
A land of opportunity, of quick fixes and slow deaths.
Coated in slogans, we make our way through the world,
Cushioned from the harsh blows we are dealt by our velour-clad thighs,
Our Nike, our Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger.
Waiting around in the cold for a better future,
Watching hope fade away, going up with the smoke rings we blow.
Banded together, we brothers and sisters, by a common goal
It is not our apathy that sets us apart from society,
But society’s abdication of responsibility towards us.
And we wait, some in hope, some in fear,
Some having lost the will to fight, some only steadfast with faith in failure.
Whether our own, or that of others on our behalf.
It’s all one to us, marching without a banner, fed on an over-rich diet of empty words,
Our minds undernourished by rhetoric, and our hearts raw and bleeding.
Our ranks swelling with every step, every door closed to us, other avenues barred,
We gather together in a column, with low morale and high birth rates,
We shall yet overcome, but what will we win?
For to conquer the world is not enough.  One must also learn to live in it.