The following poem was the prompt for a series of poems I have been working on concerning a character called Henderson, and exploring his take on life, in particular work-based life. At present I’m looking to get the sequence published in some form – hence Henderson does not appear on this site. However, in readings and workshops, Henderson has become quite a popular figure – certainly eclipsing his creator.
It was obvious he’d gone.
Twenty minutes later he emerged;
a year older (and an inch shorter),
for every minute he’d been before the boss.
Never seen a man so reduced.
He stood for an hour and stared at the car park.
Something had left him,
none of us knew what words to offer his shell.
Then Shivali asked if he’d still sort the Lottery
and Dave wondered if an office would be free.
The following week
hushed conversations stopped
whenever he came into the tea-room.
Might as well have rung a bell.
He’d eat alone, untouchable.
Then his desk was empty,
though his screensaver still showed
a picture from the Christmas do;
dressed as an elf with Leanne on his knee,
he always liked a laugh.
Emails arrived with words like rationalise,
downturn and downsize.
It was like a damp we couldn’t stop from spreading
and it seeped from his department into ours.
Just now HR Jenny smiled at me;
my appointment ‘s Thursday, half-past three.
(This poem appeared in Acumen #77)
This poem features in ‘Codes of Conduct’ my pamphlet from Cinnamon Press.