various forms of arrogance

Paul Tanner

they made you redundant 

and you went back to your hometown,

back to your mum’s 

and when you went out,

which was a lot,

because sitting in your old bedroom with grey hairs 

was too sad, 

you kept running into old acquaintances,

never friends, 

it was always the meatheads 

who’d bogwash you and the other geeks at school, 

and they’d be all like:

what you doing back here? didn’t you get a big fancy job?

the twee plebs, you were on 8 pound an hour 

and had a shoebox apartment in Liverpool, 

it’s not like you moved to Wall Street. 

anyway when you told them what happened 

they were still cruel:

they didn’t mock you or laugh. 

no, worse

they only went and sympathised: 

to have them of all people 

tilt their head, squint and go aww?

that was a most patronising knife, 

skewering both your adult and childhood hearts:

one on top of the other like satay 

and you went back to your old bedroom in your mum’s house

and yeah, it was still sad 

and yeah, you were even greyer, but


erm …

fuck. just FUCK, you know?

Paul Tanner has been earning minimum wage, and writing about it, for too long. Was shortlisted for the Erbacce 2020 Poetry Prize. “Shop Talk” was published last year by Penniless Press.                     “No Refunds: Poems and cartoons from your local supermarket” is out now, from Alien Buddha Press. My star sign is Libido.  Hobbies include pillage and colouring in.


Denise Berger



Alyssa Cressotti


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