thistles stretch their prickly arms afar
The street sits in the early morning
shallows, the birds mutter insignificances
subtly, as the world gnaws at workers'
consciousnesses, the consequence of choice,
the infinite web of potential regret.
The stilled street is regrettable for its quiet,
workers never want to leave their houses
to enter factories where they will be held
all day to earn their pay, as everything
must be paid for, there is no other way.
The factory sits on the edge of the highway,
emanating fear and that metallic smell of cogs,
the sense that each worker must perform
his duty, or else pay the penalty of his
livelihood: penury, a fate worse than death.
At the end of the day, the work-place siren
sounds its final wailing, and workers celebrate
quietly in their cars driving home, with loan
and credit card payments all in hand, until
the next morning's drive through the gloaming.
James Fountain was born in Hartlepool in 1979 and is currently a lecturer in English Literature at Peterborough Regional College, and recently submitted the first PhD on neglected Scottish modernist poet Joseph Macleod to the University of Glasgow. He has published articles in various literary journals, as well as The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement. He recently returned from working in Cambodia and has spent most of the past eight years teaching English there and in the Arabian Gulf. He is now studying to become a journalist. His first collection of poems was Glaciation (2010), and his second collection, The Last Stop, will be available to buy online from original plus press from 1 September 2018. He is author of the autobiographical novel Out of Time (2006).