Cajun Mutt Press Featured Writer 09/28/20

wiped out

I’m there
in the shop window
wiping the cloth over the glass
and two meatheads
come up to it:

oi! one of them jabs at the glass,
then: ha ha ha, they laughed at me.
and ha ha ha, they laughed at each other.
and ha ha ha, they laughed back at me
then peered in at me,
waiting for a response …

I had 4 more windows to clean.
I didn’t have time
to pretend they were world-class comedians
so I carried on wiping with my cloth …

their faces dropped.
they came into the shop.
oi! one of them said. it was only a joke, you know!
I know, I told them.
so why didn’t you laugh, then? the other asked.
didn’t find it funny, I shrugged.
ok, there’s no need to get all offended! said the first one.
I’m not offended, I said. just didn’t find laugh-out loud funny.
who’d you think you are? the other said. fuckin snob!
fuckin shop worker, being a snob! said his friend.
he’s a fuckin window cleaner! and HE’S offended!

I’m not offended, I said. you are.

YOU WHAT? he said.

you’re kicking off
because a shop worker
didn’t laugh at your unoriginal joke.
you’re the snobs. you’re the offended ones.
the first one comes towards me –
the other one holds him back.
he says. I KNOW YOU DO!
then they turned
and marched out
in army unison.

customers were staring.

I went back to wiping down the window …
a fly landed
right where I was wiping
and it waited
sprawled out,
looking up at me:

do it,
it buzzed a beg.

©2020 Paul Tanner All rights reserved.

Paul Tanner has been earning minimum wage and hounding “the littles” about it for 15 years. His latest collection Shop Talk: Poems for Shop Workers was published by Penniless Press last year. His star sign is Libido. Hobbies include bombing, looting and colouring in.

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