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most probably


all of us

whoever we are

are just sitting there

in the jobcentre


with this one light


this one long rectangle light



like an injured wasp

having death throe

after death throe:

buzz buzz buzz

blink blink blink

for half an hour … an hour and a half … two hours and five minutes:

buzz buzz buzz

blink blink blink



finally this big dude says JESUS CHRIST and he gets up, stands on his chair

and punches up at it –

the dimpled rectangular casing clattered over his shoulder and onto the floor

and then, right, he wrenches the bulb out of the ceiling,

and it’s hot so he runs over to the doors hissing SHIT, SHIT, SHIT

and flings it outside – we hear it smash on the steps

and then he stands there

waving his red hand

as he looks around at us all,

says sorry, but that was getting me on tits


and you know what the staff did? nothing.

in fact:

thank god, one of the girls at the desks whispered to another.

that was getting on my tits and all, that was, she said

as her colleague nodded,

eyeing the big dude

up and down.

even the security guard just shook his head

and smiled patiently.

well, he was a foot shorter than him.


that big dude,

he will probably get a job changing jobcentre light bulbs,

they’ll hand him some title

like “council light distributor apprentice”

or something


and he’ll be changing the buzzing bulbs

above your head

for years to come.  

Tanner congealed in Liverpool tomorrow. A novel, Jobseeker (2016), on Amazon now. Orbis, Decanto, Krax, Brittle Star, Erbacce, The Journal, Splizz, Magma, Purple Patch, Urban District Writer (urban district writer '08 award), Dawntreader, Rialto, Pulsar, Runcible Spoon, The Crazy Oik, Penniless Press magazine, Monkey Kettle, Rain Dog. Three poetry collections published by The Penniless Press: The Ism Prison (2012), Class Act (2015), Shop Talk - Poems for Shop Workers (Oct 2019).

“jobsearch” course 85


there are rooms

in your town

you have never seen


rooms on the outskirts of your town

grey plastic rooms

owned by your council


and in these rooms

they put us:

the terminally unemployed

you have never seen us either

but we are here

in these grey plastic council rooms

on the outskirts of your town


more and more of us

crammed into

more and more of these rooms,

running along the outskirts of your town

a grey plastic ring

of council rooms

surrounding your affluent centre


swelling, closing in


one day

your whole town

will be a grey plastic council room


and then you will see us.

Poor Doors
Sheriff Stars
Black Triangle
bedroom tax
Disrupt and Upset
bedroom tax
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
Disrupt and Upset

Militant Thistles

prickling the politics of "permanent austerity"

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