Why are they so nice to us
Those denizens of the DHSS?
Oops! – wrong image,
It’s now the Employment Service…more or less

Raymond sported a badge which identified him
As ‘a member of the clerical support team’
I wanted to ask him what position,
But he was already away
With his ‘back-to-work’ scheme

I had to have a plan you see
That got me ‘gainful’ again;
What occupations could I list?
How much, where, when?

Well, let me see now;
I was a brain surgeon till times got tough
Then I tried circus strongman
Till my back cried enough;
Later, it was alligator-taming
Till I lost my bottle
Now I fancy Formula One driving
At full throttle

Raymond scribbled; the audience had ended
‘No inclination – benefit suspended’

What has happened to the barricades;
The litter-strewn floors,
The ‘them-and-us’ confrontations,
The glass partitions, the bolted-down chairs?

Open-plan dole-queues and carpeted floors?
I think I will get myself a job
There’s no soul in this place anymore.



 For fourteen days now

The tiger has prowled

His container home;

Two paces forward, stop

Two paces back, stop

In between times he bares his teeth

To applause behind tungsten bars


Around him, candy-stripe tents

And shabby eight-wheelers

Cluster the green,

Whilst pint-sized piebalds

Lacklustrely sniff flattened grass

And stray dogs move silently

Between guy-ropes and giraffes


The carnival is over;

Clowns without their faces

Mingle with the roustabouts

Just an extra pair of hand now

And the Three Amazons are exposed

As jaded blondes without their trapeze trappings


The nondescript retinue pull the final peg,

Collapse the big top

And lock away the magic…

And still the tiger prowls.

taken from my new book of poetry, ’67’,  now available @  http://www.tinhuttalespublishers.co.uk/67/