Saturday, 26 September 2009

The Luxury of Work-aholicism

Short-legged heavers,
Kick the ground behind them.
Shoulders and sternum snap into straps,
Stretch inertial glue till
Tiny rock rolls to relief,
And the truck climbs the track.

In the black of the pit
Five lights bob on the brows
Of the heavers.
They slide and strain,
In a square dance of pain,
A squealing wheel
Marks time.

Muscles search for stores.
A breakfast of bread and fat
Barely meets the need
But thick and wide
Thews collide and kick
The ground again.

What do they think
As they spend their strength?
Do they feel manly pride
In their collective power?
Or are their minds blank
Like any beast
Set to toil hour after hour.

On a Calcutta street,
A mountain of jute
Totters on a matchwood cart.
Before it,
Little red donkey,
Splayed and dead
Too thin and tiny for his heart.

Miners and donkey
Had no choice
Forced to labour
Beyond their limit
Neither took any pride in it.

Life's work-horse
May crash with colic
But a working man
Is not a workaholic.

Friday, 25 September 2009


She refers to earlier times as, when she was alive.
I say, “Before I was in service.”

But actually we have that the wrong way around.
There was a time when I was alive
And she was in service,
Like a bus is in service,
Going somewhere
Full of life.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Dirty Laundry

‭“‬Hang the fucking flannel up‭!”
I whisper in a hoarse cry,
The words break free like‭
Adultrous‭ ‬men in black,‭
Up to no good.

I see my snarl in the bathroom mirror.
Guilt at such pettiness
Makes me wince.

My friend has just been widowed,
Another's in remission,
And here I am screaming about flannels.

Good job I didn't really yell it out.

Yet,‭ ‬still I try to justify my fury.
It's a symptom.
A tip of an iceburg.
A metaphor.

But I feel small.

I hang up the flannel,
Then decide to throw it‭
In the boil wash after all.