Geoff Hattersley (British Working Class Poets)

Geoff Hattersley

Geoff Hattersley has been publishing and performing his poetry since 1984 and still hasn’t kicked the habit. His publications include Don’t Worry (Bloodaxe Books 1994), Harmonica (Wrecking Ball Press 2003), and Outside the Blue Hebium (Smith Doorstop Books 2012). He lives in West Yorkshire and has been married to the poet Jeanette Hattersley for 35 years.

When You’re Pushing Fifty

When you’re pushing fifty
it gets harder to wake
to shake off the drink
shave with a clear head
get out in time for the bus
do a hard day’s labour
the sweat pouring out of you
with a bitter smell

When you’re pushing fifty
you’ve dreamt most of your dreams
can’t recall them now
all that remains
are the motions you go through
saying the same things
as if you still meant them
through what’s left of your teeth

When you’re pushing fifty
you’ve read all the great books
know there are none to come
you don’t believe in miracles
you no longer hope
for social change
know phonies and killers
will always be in charge

When you’re pushing fifty
you’ve suffered a lot of fools
now you show them the door
you just follow your own nose
it’s smelled most stuff by now
it knows bullshit for instance
it can smell a rat
or a rare flower

When you’re pushing fifty
you know you don’t know everything
you know enough
you know just as much as you can take
you know a good move when you see it
or a bad mistake
there’s a lid on your rage
now and then you hear it hissing

Stupid Stuff

The supervisor
Had something on his mind:
‘Every time 
You open a paper
There’s some celebrity 
Showing their arse,
What’s wrong 
With these people?’
I thought about this
And other stupid stuff
As I toted heavy cardboard boxes
Full of personnel files
Up three flights of stairs.
Fifty-seven trips
On one of the hottest 
Days of the year.
Tom said he’d report me
To the union
For sweating on the job.
But we don’t have a union.
Then we heard on the radio
That Dennis Thatcher 
Had passed on.
Shirley said, ‘Poor Maggie’,
And I laughed. 
But to her it was no joke.
Funny how you can 
Go off people.
Well, I’m sure she’s gone off
Me too.

My Shoes Need Cleaning

I am the ultimate slacker,
It says so in a review

Written by a man who puts Dr.
At the front of his name.

And then I stuff the magazine
In the bin and wonder

If I should cut my fingernails
Or merely roll a cigarette.

I do work for a living, though.
Nobody there calls me Dr.,

Nobody calls themselves Dr.
I guess nobody’s a Dr.

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