JAC 7h

I can speak only for myself,
but I also know
I'm not the only one
trying to navigate
a series of screw-ups,
misunderstandings
and blown opportunities.
I'm trying to figure out how to balance
being in school full-time,
holding multiple jobs,
maintaining a social life,
understanding a relationship,
missing my family,
not being able to afford books
and remembering to eat or sleep.
God knows
you've got it harder than I do.
No one deserves
to go through crap on top of that,
but we always do anyway.
I'm surely going to be
an asshole sometimes.
I'll do what I can not to be,
but it's never been enough before,
and I don't see that changing.
All I hope for
is someone to talk to,
send stupid messages,
bounce homework answers off of,
have coffee with
when we should be
doing that homework.
I owe you that.

Actually a text message, simply broken up into the shape of a poem.

When did I let this vocation of mine?
Which I've worked so hard for
Become the main reason and meaning of me?

When exactly did it happen
That my passion slipped and fell to the ground
Like the seasons passing on an endless tree?

I said I wouldn't forget once I had
I said many things of myself back then
Be it most confident or most arrogantly

A vow is a vow to those who uphold
But what are the words to the man within?
Who forgets himself in his own externalties

Truth and honest. Doesn't mean there's action.

Sometimes I think back to the time we spent at school.

Hard plastic chairs, short desks and shorter attention spans.

We were children:

Indoctrinated with dreams of quiet homes and large offices. Of fieldwork, pride and gold-gilt fame.

We said that we would be doctors, lawyers, scientists, astronauts.

Never-mind the adult's delighted laughs! We reveled in mirth and wonder.

Now we say that we would be seeing doctors.
Needing lawyers.
Blood-shot eyes scanning tabloids that preached SCIENCE as if it were medieval magic. No, brother, correlation ain't causation.

How wonderful would it be to someday see humanity dance among the cosmos? Weaving between invisible holes cut into the pitch vastness of space.

Now we accept our jobs with a grimace and a sigh.
Uncomfortable as they may be, we've got bills to pay and loans to ignore.

We're all waiting for something to come after.

After puberty. After degrees of debt. After—

After we aged. Fragile from years of effort.
Snapping our backs to the rhythm of our daily commute.

I don't know what comes after, brother.

But I sure as hell didn't sign up for this.

I don't ask for sympathy.

I won't ask for love.

I'll wait until my judgement day to make peace with God above.

I don't take what isn't mine.

I won't kneel down to pray.

I've worked too hard for too damn long for far too shitty pay.

I don't know where this is going.

But I know, now, how it'll end.

I'll live, I'll work, I'll die and then-

I'll do it all again.

Job interviews I never attended
never turned up,
having been booked.

I'm coming - I said,
I emailed them to confirm,
and I didn't go. What a shame.

I was ready for it in the evening,
but in the morning I was like No.
They were ready for me though,
they always are,
they never sleep,
they never rest,
they hate their beds.

Empty were chairs at the table
where my boss-to-be was sitting,
suited and booted,
awaiting for me,
with handful of papers
ready to be read by my eyes
and signed with my hand,
they are still not signed,
they will never be.

My future employer
I never had a pleasure to meet,
I didn't shake my hand with him,
no smiles exchanged,
no Hi,
no How are you, no Goodbye.

Job interviews I never attended,
my poor boss-to-be I never met,
I didn't wake up on time,
I'm stayed in bed.
One time too early,
another time - too late.
I always ended up
not meeting my fate.

I wonder who is doing these job
I never taken up,
I bet someone does,
someone who came on time
and read and signed the papers, smiling wide.

I hope it happened
and both sides are happy, at least,
I hope my ex-future boss
is still not sitting there, still,
waiting for me.

I have always worked hard
But never found work hard
Never before
Has it felt such a chore
My job is engaging
But I'm changing
I feel I'm a pale reflection
A mere fraction
Of me is present
I'm absent
My mind is elsewhere
Struggling to care

I used to care

It made it easy to be there!

This apathy
Is draining me
It's exhausting to smile
Too much energy required
I'm shattered before I arrive
Just trying to survive
I never used to pray
For the end of the day
What used to be easy
Now takes all of me
Shouldn't be this hard
It's like I'm swimming through tar
Empty of everything
Not just energy
Empty of all the things
I need to be me
To be here
And I fear
You'll see what I'm thinking
On the brink of sinking
Can't trust this shell
Can't tell
If you can see
The battle in me
Do you know what it takes
To be this fake
I'm angry through and through
While I'm smiling at you
This facade is tiresome
Back in the rhythm
Have you heard my sarcasm
I'm so numb
Detached and chained
Deranged but refrained
A turbulent storm
Has my insides deformed
This dusty barren show
Takes every ounce of strength I own
I can only hope
That no one really knows
But I wish they knew
Just how few
Pieces of me
Are left trying endlessly
To be all I was before
But with the passion of a corps
It's torturous, agonising
This hollow chattering
Exhausting, debilitating
Laborious, my patience is failing
Back to the grind they say
It never used to grind this way!!

Returning to work after my brother was murdered

There's something in the water
making everyone a fool,
reading doorsigns that say "push"
and yet, they still are trying to pull.

Quick write
Kash Sep 15

I never feel that I am productive.
Not productive enough.
Change the world somehow, everyday.
Those are my standards and I have never met them.
So I have to sit with myself every night.
Feeling disappointment and self loathing.
"You didn't do anything great today,"
a voice taunts me.
"Why are you even here if you don't contribute."
But what is contribution really?
Can't it be small?
It has to be small because I can't make it big.
I have to learn to appreciate my small self.
If I make someone smile,
if I write a poem,
if I walk the dogs,
why can't those things count?
I have to learn to count them
because they are all I have.
I can't be great but I can be good in small ways
and who knows, maybe they will add up to great someday.

Terry Collett Sep 15

I appreciate that your father died,
but we have noticed your work
has slacked off since you're been back,
Ericsson said in his soft measured voice.

I wanted to say: stick your job
up your Swedish arse, but I didn't;
I apologised and said that I'd speed up;
he smiled and nodded and walked away.

Father had from cancer
two weeks before.

The funeral had been
the week after.

Then back to work
and to carry on.
But it all seemed less
real somehow;
less important
in the run of things.

After all it wasn't every day
you lose a father.

The noise of machines
was around me.
The women chatted
as they worked over the way.

The men on the dye cast machines
joked and laughed as they
pressed and pulled.

I drilled a little faster;
not for them or their profit margins,
but for me, to keep the job
for a while until something
better came along.  

Someone happier
broke into song.

After Father died in 1968

Eight hours everyday five days of the week.

Come home, eat dinner go to sleep and have a weekend break.

Wasting time or time gone wasted? Pay the mortgage if I had one to pay. Pay the bills and send the kids all off to college.

That's what management says. "You millennials, always ruining something!"

You can't feed a family on avocado toast seasoned with debt.

Is it worth it? This life I have? These four-walls are a cell and I'm paid to be locked in a for-profit prison. Eight hours everyday five days out of the week.

Food and sleep are a punctuation. Sunlight through a dusty office window and stale break room coffee.

Blink and you're forty. Blink again and you realize that you can't get back the hours you spent on overtime. Glazed-eyes and a faded smile.

"If you don't like it, quit." I would if I could, but I like to have a roof over my head and hot food in the wintertime.

I'll retire when I die.

At least I know that my kids won't have to pay for my coffin.

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