Paul Tanner

customer service in 2020

we still had to go into the shop
to do stock checks
and disinfect all the shelves.

he comes up to the door.
he reads the sign saying “closed due to coronavirus."
then he starts banging on the window:

his nose squashed against the glass…

read the sign, I tell him.

his face clouding over
as his breath fogs up the glass…

we shut yesterday! I tell him, you know,
when the government told us to?

BUT GOOGLE SAYS! he yells,
just two wide eyes floating
within his breath cloud…

I don’t control google! I tell him. now go home!

BUT GOOGLE! he wails, fading into
a mist
of his own doing,

terrible, how this pandemic finishes sick people off, innit?

prefab soul munch

job centre steps:
meat head. got a big dog.
dog takes snap at withered pidge.
meat head kicks bird at big dog. go on boy, get him boy.
me: coward: walk on.

in there.
peroxide blonde – blonde? more yellow – yellow head.
face? gloss swollen. spiky clam eyes.
green suede tracksuit. big green suede breasts.
plastic rectangle breasts – don’t bounce. lunge,
like robot arms, as she guffaws
at the security guard’s unintentional non sequiturs.

walk on: further into there.
grey council light hum. like a bee burping. or: something.
sit. wait. sit. wait. sit. sit.
get called up.
beg. beg the crony for financial aid. nil dice. walk on:
exit this way. is it, though?

yellow head wants a go of the guard’s walkie talkie.

walk on: further into the out. into the exit.
job centre steps again:
big dog has pidge in mouth.
meat head smiles and/or then does a spit.
spits in the pidge blood.

spend: another night in the exit.

About the Author

Paul Tanner has been earning minimum wage, and writing about it, for far too long. His latest collection, Lowest Form, was published by Clair Obscur Press. Paul’s star sign is Libido. His hobbies include pillage and colouring in. He lives in the United Kingdom.