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Paul Tanner


Paul Tanner lives in England. His latest collection, Shop Talk: Poems for Shop Workers, was published by Penniless Press last winter.


doled out

a meat head
with scabs on his knuckles
walks in, walks past
all of us sitting here
who’ve been waiting hours,
marches straight up to a crony,
slaps his jobsearch book down
on the crony’s desk,
leans over the crony and says: sign
so the crony signs it
and the meat head,
he takes his jobsearch book back
says: nice one, see you in two weeks
and marches back out …

an hour or so later, you’re called up.

you’ve barely sat down
when the crony holds his hand out,
says: jobsearch book?
so you hand it over
and he flips through the ten or twelve pages of job applications
you’ve listed in the past fortnight
and frowning, he says: no.
you’re obviously not making enough effort
to find work. denied.

and the cogs turn. and your stomach churns
on those cogs
and fuck all else,
tis always the fucking season, churn, churn, churn.
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