Friday, 26 January 2018 18:26

stitching this universe together

Written by
in Poetry
stitching this universe together

stitching this Universe together

by Martin Hayes

Sadiq wants to stay a part of this control room, a part
of this bunch of chained cynical indebted men
who continually take the piss out of his haircuts
his shoes and his love life
who never cut him any slack whenever he makes a mistake
laughing and calling him names that Sadiq laughs back at
because Sadiq knows
that he will be a part of that pack in a couple of hours
and that the hands he uses to twist the shoes onto his 2-year-old’s feet every morning
and that wrap the scarf around her neck to keep her warm
and that slip her coat over her shoulders by the door
are the same hands as Mikey’s and Bill’s and Dermot’s and Javed’s
who every morning slip and wrap the same shoes and scarves and coats
around their children

Antoine wants to stay a part of this control room, even when it is him
who is on the receiving end of his fellow controller’s cruelty
taking the mickey out of him getting bollocked by one of the supervisors
as they circle and sharpen their minds
waiting for the quietest moment possible
before launching their one-liners and cusses
into his ears
causing the rest of the pack to crack up in fits of laughter
because Antoine knows that all of this
is done in the name of survival
a survival that enables Antoine to put cereal on the table in front of his 6-year-old boy pour
milk into his wife’s coffee cup keep
the car topped up with diesel the lights burning the roof solid the water hot the sun up in the sky
warming all of our hands and backs as we punch buttons on keypads lift
quarter ton engines out of vans haul
filing cabinets from one office into another office
and all because
we need to protect those castles
that we can safely pack our lives away in
whenever it gets cold

Stacey wants to stay a part of this control room
where despite all of the bollockings and bloodlettings she has been on the end of
she keeps getting up after being knocked down
constantly talking with enthusiasm about her end games, her outs
which this control room is going to give to her
which has her sitting on beaches lying next to Calvin Klein models
balancing Campari and sodas on their ripped stomachs
or behind the steering wheel of a 35 grand sports car
heading into a sunset the colour of a burning boys’ heart
or sat on the edge of a pool
dangling her feet in the water behind her paid-for home
with the sun holding her hand
and the ocean salting her hair
the same dreams in fact
that the woman sitting next to you on the bus has
that the woman typing figures into a computer terminal all day has
that the woman who scans your shopping at the checkout has
that the man sat at the top of a crane or in the cabin of a van has
the same dreams of freedom
that we all have
where we won’t anymore have to put up with a man
who feels the need to dehumanise and bully us in front of a room full of people
just because he is paid 4 times more
and has a reputation to keep

we all want to stay a part of this control room
for as long as possible
or at least until our hands cannot tap one single button more
on one of their keypads
or at least until our minds have given up
and can’t see through the hundreds of jobs
that keep dropping down onto our screens
or at least until our blood
stops foaming with this adrenalin
which allows us to understand and get through
all of those busy Friday afternoons
because in the end
don’t we need these jobs
for more than just their money
don’t we need these jobs
so that we can stand in front of mirrors
and look at ourselves
without feeling worthless
or disconnected
like a CEO must
like a President or Prime Minister must
like the head of an HR department must
don’t we need these jobs
in the same way that Martin Luther King needed his dream
in the same way that Rosa Parks needed to stay on that bus
in the same way that the Wilding needed equality
that gravity
pulls on the planets and stars
the same way that the sea
can never stop being the sea

we all want to stay a part of this control room
for as long as possible
because this is where we learnt
that the men and women who are employed by Phoenix Express
are the same
as every working man
and woman
and that all of our fingertips combined
might just be the fingertips
that keeps us and this Universe
stitched together

This poem is from Martin Hayes's forthcoming collection, The Things Our Hands Once Stood For, to be published by Culture Matters.

Read 2776 times Last modified on Friday, 26 January 2018 18:32
Martin Hayes

Martin Hayes has worked in the courier industry for 30 years. His latest collection is The Things Our Hands Once Stood For, published by Culture Matters.