JAMES BROWN

No Rest

Wake up facing wall.
Sound of rain battering roof.
Taste of cabbage in mouth.
Fall of limbs into clothes.
No milk.
No bread.
No power to fridge.
Grin of spider in bath.
Smell of cat shit in shower.
Laughter of empty coat hook.
Recall coat on work chair back.
Sprint down floundering road.
Battering of rain on head.
Battering of rain on world.
Battering of hand on departing bus.
Arrival of traction engine.
Driver in no hurry due to battering rain.
War and Peace passed among passengers.
Battering of rain on eventual arrival.
Swipe entry to building.
Swipe entry to building.
Brush teeth with finger.
Cement smile to face.
Make wet joke to silent room.
Assume desk.
Spill tea.
Log-in ‘rejected’.
Work ‘unable to be retrieved’.
Gaze at computer with libellous intent.
Called into boss for chat.
Hurried pulling up of socks.
Told to pick up pace.
Told to wake up ideas.
Told to pull up socks.
Resume desk.
Leave message with IT.
Try to hang up phone.
Try to pick up pieces.
Try to not cry.
Take stock.
Take deep breath.
Take running jump.
Thump computer.
Thump printer.
Thump stapler.
Thumb stapled to work station.
Stagger to sickbay.
Told to lose weight.
Told to gain confidence.
Told to relax.
Walk carefully to tearoom.
Make weak tea joke to back of queue.
Coincide with boss.
Smile through clenched toes.
Resume desk.
Leave message with IT.
Tip tea in pot plant.
Try to avoid meeting.
Try to avoid trouble.
Try to avoid void.
Seep of seconds into lunch hour.
Exit building via disused stairwell.
Coincide with boss.
Smile through clenched silence.
Eat scalding pie in rain-strewn doorway.
Eat scalding fingers in rain-strewn pie.
Eat strewn words in rain-scalded head.
Resume desk.
Leave message with IT.
Traipse into rudderless meeting.
Tapping of rain on window.
Tapping of finger on pen.
Tapping of words on brain.
Shake head.
Nod head.
Nod off.
Wake to posture sliding from chair.
Wake to improbable dreams involving team leader.
Wake to startling new punchline to Noddy joke.
Strive to ignore buzzing fluoro.
Strive to think of sensible question.
Strive not to tell Noddy joke.
Agree to differ.
Agree to compromise.
Agree to agree.
File out into endless corridor.
Resume desk.
Leave message with IT.
Visit toilet.
Coincide with boss.
Smile through clenched bottom.
Resume desk.
Draft dazzling letter of resignation.
Visit recycling bin.
Make small talk with stressed colleagues.
Make molehill out of mountain.
Make dart.
Resume desk.
Stick pin in desk mascot.
Look busy.
Look out of window.
Look into lost soul.
Leave message with IT.
Attempt work in hardcopy.
Work hard at copy attempt.
Copy attempt at work hard.
Ingest fumes from correction fluid.
Experience time as gelid ellipse.
Drip wobble of seconds into stupendous bullet points:
•    Literacy practice is effective when it leads to
improved literacy achievement
•    Teacher efficacy is strongly related
to being an effective teacher
•    The poem is about the mind’s ability
to fashion for itself a series of problems
and thereby a series of possible solutions
•    God is always greater than all our troubles
Find lost lucky penny.
Shut down computer.
Ha fucking ha.
Sprint down exit stairwell.
Forget coat.
Forget to buy milk.
Forget to learn from mistakes.
Catch world’s most missable bus.
Crawl of nose against window.
Crawl of babies into adulthood.
Crawl of snails into advanced species.
Battering of rain on bus.
Battering of rain on suburbs.
Battering of rain on rain.
Sprint up floundering road.
Collect sodden demands from letterbox.
Climb 4000 steps to front door.
Stare at key through locked window.
Contort back through stuffed toilet louvres.
Seek illumination from 40 watt bulb.
Seek sustenance from reheated dinner.
Seek picture in snow on telly.
Try to make bed to lie in.
Try to make light of day.
Try to make light of darkness.

James Brown lives in Wellington with his partner and two daughters. His latest book is The Year of the Bicycle (Victoria University Press, 2006), which includes this poem and ‘The Wicked’ (Best New Zealand Poems 2004).

Brown comments: ‘I wrote this rant on behalf of office workers everywhere. The jotted-note form and permanent Monday morning hyperbole owe something to “From a Recluse to a Roving I Will Go” (from A Hundred Of Happiness and Other Poems) by British poet Martin Stannard. My advancement is the introduction of bullet points.’

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