various forms of arrogance
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,
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.
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
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.