22 years old and red raw with yellow

featured in the poetry forum August 15, 2020  :: 0 comments

I was scared to live
and scared to die
so I got a job in a supermarket.

I was stacking shelves
when this loud slap echoed outside:
PAH-CHOW! like a gunshot

so I put my box down and went out there
looking for some crossfire
but it was just some mid-pubescent oaf trying to start his motorbike
as it banged out black farts.
what you lookin at? he said
and I thought:
if he hits me, I might be allowed to go home and kill myself
or, if he hits me hard enough, I might just die here and now.
it was win-win.
so I told him: a virgin, I assume?
but he bottled it. just issued some flimsy threats
and went chugging off across the car park.

why didn’t I just quit and die?
because I knew then
that I was in for a long slow death of shelf stacking:
my personal cowardice
was my minimum wage contribution
to our collective political cowardice,
stacking shelves in our assisted societal suicide
for years to come.

and besides, it was a payday:
they always solve everything, don’t they?

editors note:

That paycheck suspends us in purchasing purgatory. Be happy. Buy more. (We welcome Tanner to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

of grave unimportance

featured in the poetry forum May 29, 2020  :: 0 comments

the jobcentre crony
is surprised to see me:
your appointment’s not until later, she says
I’ve a funeral to go to, I explain.
any chance we could do it now?
and she rolls her eyes: well I suppose we can fit you in,
she roots around for a form.

we have some stuff in common:
her collar is white
but she’s working class, like me.
her collar has hung her;
she’s dead, like my friend.
but she does not and she cannot know this,
as she asks me the all-important question:
what jobs have you applied for this week?

and since there aren’t any going, I say:
ALL OF THEM
and my wit, it is a worm
scratching too loud at her coffin lid
and she wakes up angry
as would I
if I died and went to the jobcentre
but it’s cool: they don’t want me here
in this life
or the next
and aw crap, is there really another life to fail at?

editors note:

No worries, focus. Get this life failed right; fail better at the next. – mh clay

freaks be rare

featured in the poetry forum March 13, 2020  :: 0 comments

he liked the heads best
he liked the rest of them too
he liked all their parts
but the heads
they were the best
and he’d line them up on his bookcase
like pretty vases
pretty silent vases
and admire them
as they looked out of the shelves
admiring him back it seemed
all wide-eyed open-mouthed admiration
yeah
but soon they’d grey
soon they’d droop
the eyes running
the lips curling
and it was like they were sad
to be on his bookcase
like they were mad at him
he could hear them scolding him
out of sagging wet grey faces
ugly and loud
they didn’t admire him anymore
and then he’d have to go back out there
and get more heads
newer happier heads
pretty silent heads
that appreciated him.
he wasn’t a freak. freaks be rare.
he wasn’t rare. he was just him.
you know – like you be you?

editors note:

Seeking individuals for home decoration. Heads up! – mh clay