Office Trim

I wrote this several years ago; the idea came to me during a particularly uncomfortable meeting with a contractor. I keep changing my mind with regards to the title; sometimes it’s “Six Degrees of Freedom”.

We meet to discuss resources, not people.
Outsourcing, insourcing, TUPEs
And how many FTEs
We need, and how many are superfluous;
We must trim our budgets and our manpower, our undertakings.
But it’s ok; they’re only contractors, and road diggers at that.

We roll with it.
We don’t discuss names but
Full-time equivalents
Each FTE is a person, each team is two,
And a gang is not as it sounds,
A menacing mass of uncomprehending brawn, but
Four living emissaries, who toil to shift the earth and uncover the cables
Whose surge we all live and die by

And as we talk, and look at charts
And calculate how many people to discard,
My eyes swaying, I notice the room divider.
Teak veneer, with a trim at each end to hide the workings
Of the sliding thing which can increase room volume productivity,
Cleave its capacity, double its output.
Efficient divider! We could learn from your mechanism.

I take in this room; the air conditioning set to minimum,
A frigid herald of our decision making.
A false ceiling has a double crisscross trim and
Hangs over us as we crisscross the names on our lists.
The trunking is enclosed in a thick conduit,
The data cables and plugs are docked into
A cunning bay that pops up in our midst.
Startled, we retire it to its depths again
The whiteboard slides slickly on its runner as
We strike off the names from its impassive non-permanence

We make heavy going of this administrative exercise
And shirk our responsibilities
As they heave their muscles with a degree of freedom*.
We yawn and yaw from the task in hand;
While their dirty rough hands are cleaner than ours
Even when we finally pitch the spoil and call for the muck away gang
To clear up today’s handiwork

 

* The six degrees of freedom are the number of independent parameters that define a mechanical system’s configuration.

 Moving up and down (heaving)
Moving left and right (swaying)
Moving back and forwards (surging)
Tilt backwards and forwards (pitching)
Swivel left and right (yawing)
Pivot  side to side (rolling)

Commission (Ezra Pound)

Ezra Pound By Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882–1966) (National Portait Galley, London) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Ezra Pound [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Not my poem, alas, but one that I wanted to feature here; it’s always relevant for the poet, the writer, the artist.

Go, my songs, to the lonely and the unsatisfied,
Go also to the nerve-racked, go to the enslaved-by-convention,
Bear to them my contempt for their oppressors.
Go as a great wave of cool water,
Bear my contempt of oppressors.

Speak against unconscious oppression,
Speak against the tyranny of the unimaginative,
Speak against bonds.
Go to the bourgeoise who is dying of her ennuis,
Go to the women in suburbs.
Go to the hideously wedded,
Go to them whose failure is concealed,
Go to the unluckily mated,
Go to the bought wife,
Go to the woman entailed.

Go to those who have delicate lust,
Go to those whose delicate desires are thwarted,
Go like a blight upon the dullness of the world;
Go with your edge against this,
Strengthen the subtle cords,
Bring confidence upon the algae and the tentacles of the soul.
Go in a friendly manner,
Go with an open speech.
Be eager to find new evils and new good,
Be against all forms of oppression.
Go to those who are thickened with middle age,
To those who have lost their interest.

Go to the adolescents who are smothered in family-
Oh how hideous it is
To see three generations of one house gathered together!
It is like an old tree with shoots,
And with some branches rotted and falling.

Go out and defy opinion,
Go against this vegetable bondage of the blood.
Be against all sorts of mortmain.

Hold The Front Page

I wrote (borrowed? appropriated?) this in 1999, using headlines taken from the 28th May 1999 papers;  I’m going to write a followup this May, as an interesting exercise in observing what has changed in 17 years, and what remains the same in absorbing us, news-wise.

ukpapers (2)

Tragedy of babies born into
A BUS SHELTER CALLED HOME

Ferguson’s £12million spending limit
Upsets the Deaf

War crimes move
The start of the weekend

SORRY SOPHIE
We never meant to cause you distress

Topless photo was a mistake –
Two heads four legs and sex appeal!!!

Ban on Viagra to cost millions
BARGAIN BEDS BONANZA

WE ADMIT IT!
Disability benefits threatened

75% off
50% off
25% off
20% off

MORE SAVINGS. MORE SAVINGS. MORE SAVINGS

From Kosovo to Kiss-o-vo
KIDS AGED TWO ARE MASSACRED

Myra threatens sit in at change of prison
My angel murdered

For Boxer

Bowl of jellied eels
Jellied eels by Footballbooks (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
 I wrote this poem last summer for a work colleague who really should ease up but on whom lots of us rely, daily.

 

Not tall, but sturdy
London born. Not quite
A Cockney.

Unremarkable maybe except for
That quiet determination,
Hard as granite, soft as shit

Your sentimentality
Like jellied eels
A backbone in the mush.

A dying breed
But don’t be dying,
We need your help, as always.

Your achievements chiseled from
Honest dignity and care;
You’re always there.