The Slog

Photo by Mark Stebnicki on

The Slog

I do a ton of work
For a pittanceful of brass,
But the wokies claim I shirk
Cos I’m white and working class,
And that immigrants are doing
All the jobs I should be doing,
But which they themselves aren’t doing,
As they give themselves a pass.

And the immigrants are only working hard
Because they must –
Like me, however much we’re scarred,
It’s either that or bust.
While the wokies sit there cooing
Over how much work we’re doing –
Work the wokies are eschewing,
Thinking all is fair and just.

My Final Colleague

Busy Robot by VichanChairat

My Last Colleague

Honestly, nothing about my job
Is beyond the wit of a silicon chip.
Just load the data, twist the knob,
And level-up the workmanship.
The sums will work, the grammar will sync,
All-night on unpaid-overtime –
While I’m making coffee to help me think,
The spreadsheets alter their paradigm.

Honestly, all that keeps me employed
Is the lack of investment by my firm –
This safe-and-boring world I’ve enjoyed
Will all be gone in the medium-term.
The world goes on, but I’ll be sacked
And paid to not-disrupt the flow.
But I won’t stage some Luddite act –
I’m only too pleased to let it all go.

Human Resources

Photo by fauxels on

Human Reseources

Colleagues are sort of these halfway-friends –
We’re thrown together, not self-selected.
In theory, we’re working to similar ends,
Or maybe we’re likewise disaffected,
But is that enough to ensure a bond ?
To safely whinge at the bosses together ?
Are workmates our mates ?  Or is that too fond,
If all we ever discuss is the weather ?

No, some of them, surely, are more than that,
Are more than just somebody else they’ve hired.  
The ones whose desk you find ourself at
More often that is strictly required.
Someone we might even meet on the outside,
Away from the phones and the morning train –
Until one of us moves-on or is downsized,
And we know we’ll never co-author again.

Colleagues are friends who we see in passing,
In the queue to pick-up a photocopy.
We snatch a few words, but no time for gassing –
Till next time we meet, while making coffee,
Or standing around with our cigarettes,
To talk about sport, and celebrities’ hair,
And the news of our cars and our kids and our pets –
Till one day we realise they’re no longer there.

No, some of them, surely, are more than acquaintances,
More than just people we spend our days seeing.
When our social circle is too large for maintenance,
Are these the ties that we won’t be freeing ?
So will we continue to meet them to talk with,
And not let them just be a face we forget ?
What happens to colleagues we no longer work with ?,
Our nine-to-five friends, once the long Sun has set.

Football Widows

Abandoned Things: Deflated Football 02 by longzijun

Football Widows
Keep your head down,
Nod along,
To the chatter at work and down the pub.
See out the season –
Silent and strong
Whenever the ask you “what’s your club ?”
Just shrug and smile
And change the topic,
Even sheepishly confess
“It’s not my thing”,
And quietly drop it,
Shuffling back to the wilderness.
Don’t get smug
How partisan
Their view of the pitch is – they already know !
The offside outrage
Of the av’rage fan
Is part of the fun, and all for show.
So make no fuss,
Keep your comments mum,
And join the sweepstake for the whatever-cup.
The topic will change
And your chance will come –
Keep your eye on the ball, and don’t give up !


Photo by Jeffrey Czum on


It’s never been as easy as now
To apply for a brand new job –
A couple of clicks on the morning train
And your old boss’s loss is your new boss’s gain.
Except…you’re one of the millions now,
A lone CV in the mob –
And all those skills it took years to master,
The algorithm can reject ever faster.

We’re all sending pleas into the void,
Just begging for a happier lot
We’re bored and stressed in our current roles,
Our daily slog has poisoned our souls.
We grumble away with our hope destroyed,
As the years see our futures rot.
We know precisely what we want to do,
But the gods say ‘not for the likes of you’.

Read by Ebba

Careers Advice

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Careers Advice

I’ve worked too long in a job that’s wrong,
That’s never suited me –
I don’t enjoy my long employ,
But now I can’t break free !

To pay the bills, I’ve built up skills
That aren’t of use elsewhere –
But if I quit, my face won’t fit,
My peg is far too square.

I’d have to start to learn an art
From back on the fact’ry floor –
It could take years of rent arrears,
Till my payslips aren’t so poor.

So kids, choose wise which bunch of guys
You wish to call your own –
For once you’ve gone a decade on,
Your path is set in stone.

Office Shrub

Office Shrub 

I saw the plant through the window of the meeting room
A bedraggled thing –
Clearly wilted, but not yet quite in the waterless tomb –
Determined to cling.
But every time I passed, the space was fulfilling its mission,
Hosting a crowd –
I hadn’t a hope of providing the patient a little nutrition,
Or sparing the shroud.
Not unless I fancied hearing of paradigm shifts
And stakeholder rights,
Or talking shop about new regulations and faulty lifts
Between doughnut bites.
Until, at last, while walking by on my way to the train,
And a forlorn glance –
The lights were out, but the hallway fluorescents leaked through the pane…
I took my chance.
I had just a drop in my water bottle, to break the drought
With barely a stream –
But I saw some dregs in the coffee cups that were strewn about
And a pot of cream.
And a leak in the corner of the room had collected on the window sill –
And that was its lot.
Then I never found that room so empty again, till a fire drill
Gave me a shot.
The rest of the time, I’d pass the window and flick my eyes,
To check its state,
But through endless workshops preaching the need to synergise,
It didn’t look great.
Yet when I finally proffered my notice, on my very last day,
I was glad to see,
That that poor and bedraggled little bit of green in amongst the grey
Was outlasting me.

Qwerty Sonata

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Qwerty Sonata

I can hear her fingers dancing, dancing,
Over the keyboard, rat-a-tat-tat.
The tempo always five-to-a-heartbeat –
I can tell her typing, wherever she’s sat.
Her fingernails, a little too long,
A tambourine of bracelets, an octave higher,
Grounded by the bass of the spacebar,
And the leak of her headphones bringing the choir.
I can hear our fingers dancing, dancing,
Stretching for shift, then back to home –
The double-letter quavers, the patter of delete,
And the rhythm of return as a metronome.
But not all keyboards are tuned the same,
Staccato or reverb in stroke-length and gauge.
I like it the most when we harmonise together –
An orchestra of typists, filling up the page.

We Never Type Alone

Photo by cottonbro on

We Never Type Alone

Ev’ry keystroke, ev’ry mouse click,
Somewhere, thousands of others are typing –
Sitting at our desks or staring at our phones,
And altogether tapping and swiping.
We’re part of a synchronised dance of the fingertips,
Pressing on the A and the N and the D,
And every typo is a dozen typos,
All made in perfect harmony.


In Portugal… by Paul Fenwick


We work in warrens, underground,
We’re basement-bound, beneath fluorescents.
Not much there that changes round –
The carpet-tiles are omnipresent.

There we shelter from the rat race,
Keep out of the sun’s harsh glare –
Jobs for life, because in that place
Ev’ryone forgets we’re here.

All the year is blurred together
In our air-conditioned limbo –
All the year is shirt-sleeve weather
Spent without a single window.

Coats and brollies shield us, though,
Between the entrance and the train –
Up there it could be fog or snow,
Down here, it’s overcast again.

It’s only once the clocks have changed
That we emerge before the dusk
To find the world has rearranged,
And we discard our woollen husks.

And then we notice how the Winter’s gone
And how the Spring has come.
How long have daffodils been on ?
Looks like we’ve missed cherry plum…