Noel Negele

Work and Living in the UK

The shifts are 
twelve hour shifts
and a worker’s biggest daily struggle is,
as often is the case with repetitive jobs,
boredom.
There is also exhaustion,
you are, after all
working for the better part of a day,
but you can fight exhaustion 
with a good meal and some courage.
Boredom is a different beast.
It requires you to dig deep.
It requires some philosophy.
You have to be okay with who 
you are to deal 
with it.

Sometimes the boredom
will become so grand 
you’ll fake a bathroom visit 
just so you steal away ten minutes 
of not being a cog 
in a machine you can’t know where it begins 
and where it ends—
the warehouse is so big.

And you’ll sprinkle some piss
and then wash your hands 
and then your face 
and then look at yourself in the mirror
and think:
“I didn’t know you to
be so lazy”.

It’s the repetition 
you see.
It will get anyone.
Anyone with a soul,
no matter how desperate.
I don’t care if you’re 
a single father with three daughters
and one of them is 
not all up there in her head,
and you have to make target everyday,
you’ll still visit those bathrooms
more than your bladder needs you to—
those bathrooms are always full.

And then there’s the demeaning moment of
waiting to clock out, finally.
All of you in a line, trying to respect
the social distancing rule
but doing a terrible job at trying,
some not even trying at all,
and some just staring at that last minute 
in the clock, ticking slowly towards
the end of our shifts.

And then, finally, a breath away from leaving,
you have to go through security 
because apparently, people steal,
it’s a warehouse after all
a monkey can do it.
Don’t expect to find the 
elite of Bucharest here.

And then, zoom out from work
and you have daily life
because you have to live too,
at least just a little.
And so the days
pass slithering from your life 
in bad and cold and wet weather—
obnoxious snow every other day,
in the kitchen over the stove
cooking or doing laundry 
shopping necessities,
taking up books again and weed
and getting an Amazon prime account 
because you have to have things
to look forward to.
Otherwise life just sucks.

You have to have some things.
Just some aggressive fucking 
and alcohol and a movie 
and a Macdonald’s meal every week
is not enough.

“We should fire some weapons”,
you tell her
panting still and sweaty on the bed,
“There’s a firing range close by 
we should check it out one of these days.”
Or maybe go to Scotland for the weekend.
Ride some horses. Learn new poets.
We could go skydiving, she says.
No, fuck that. I wouldn’t do it
if they paid me.

And then her hand 
is reaching for your dick
again and soon her lips follow
and you’re thinking about things
to look forward to,
and that you need more of them.

That this is like a silent but very loud
scream of fear.
To need more and more things to look forward
to. Like a fear of death.
A middle age crisis
on your late twenties.

You’re thinking 
you’ll never blow your nose
in public,
you are that self conscious.

You’re thinking that 
you’ve wished for your own death 
with a whole hearted honesty 
but how does one decisively 
jump in a pool of nothingness
without second guessing 
how to slip into an irreversible
and forever-going and amnesiac 
abyss
without looking back.

You’re thinking that it’s nightmarish 
to get stuck in a public bathroom 
and reaching for toilet paper
after a hopeless shit you couldn’t avoid
and not finding any.
What else would one do
but scream for help?

You’re thinking there’s
a broken spring in your bed
and it’s fucking with your back.
That it’s snowing outside
and that inside it’s nice and warm
and that she is nice and warm on you.
That lust is like rabies when it gets a hold of you,
and that there is a lot of mindless violence
out there and ruthless competition 
and that you have to be really careful
if you want to make it 
if you want the house and the car and the garage 
and the dog and your peace of mind—
none of it easy
you have to be weary of people 
most of them don’t want you in peace 
most people are polar bears feasting 
on guts and blood 
and that the modern poem has become 
more like the writer 
talking to himself 
rather than the writer 
that writes a letter with heart and dream and mind 
and puts it in an almost empty whiskey bottle
and then sets it on the waves and watches it go.

You are hot she says
touching your thigh with her lips,
meaning your temperature 
thank you, you say,
I work out and she laughs 
and says hotboxing a car
is called submarine in Bulgaria
and you laugh 
because you’re high and she plucks 
hair from your chest 
and she has an ear fetish 
and you don’t work tomorrow.

***

Previously published at The Beatnik Cowboy

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