Poetry: Gainful Employment | clivejames.com
[Invisible line of text as temporary way to expand content column justified text width to hit margins on most viewports, simply for improved display stability in the interval between column creation and loading]

Gainful Employment


As if I had nothing better to do,
and who says I have, than putting the house
I haven't got in order, I sit at the oak desk
I have got, though really a table not a desk
but it's mine and I sanded it down myself
and beeswaxed it with iron wire-wool

— that was how important it was for me:
this surface on which so much was to be
accomplished. Best of all, I can take
its legs off, and replace them by way of
four angelic wing-nuts to the corner brackets
so it's both a steadfast and a moveable beast.

But I wonder why I kept this biro spring
I'm exercising now between my finger
and thumb — not to sew my eyelids up with
like the envious spirits in purgatory.
Just too exquisite to throw away,
an image of infinity or information...

I'm still here, where there's an unconsolable
joy to be had, sitting ready at my station
and waiting for the bugle or the slughorn.
No-one can say it's wasting time, my time, the time
I've got, to enter the very thread of the helix,
to live always expecting the unheard of.

(From Sky Nails: Poems 1979-1997, 2000)