Paul Tanner (British Working Class Poets)

Paul Tanner


Paul Tanner has been earning minimum wage, and writing about it, for too long. He’s had 10 collections in as many years, but they must be xxxx, otherwise he wouldn’t still be stacking shelves, would he, eh? Check out @vote_tanner on Instagram for more. Or don’t. Uh huh.



her stuff


she watches you scan and pack

her stuff.


well? she says.

well what? you ask.

aren’t you going to apologise? she wants to know.

for what? you ask.

for keeping me waiting in this queue all this time! she says. 


why doesn’t she demand apologies

from all the complaining customers

she was stuck behind?

in fact

why doesn’t SHE apologise to YOU

for making the queue you serve longer?


then again, you are sorry to be serving her,

you really are

so you tell her in all sincerity:

I’m sorry 


but she won’t believe you:

can I speak to your superior, please? she smiles ominously 


and you ring your help bell

and the rest of the queue groans


as you carry on

scanning and packing

her stuff.



death bed story time


boomers: literally try to get

    every shop worker

    that’s ever served them



also boomers: blame what understaffed staff

           are left

           for being lazy millennials


and then boomers: blame the rise

                               of self-service machines

       on technology-dependant Gen Z 


and then: pay anyone younger than them

                for online sex


and finally: blame anyone and everyone  

                   who came after them

                   for the death of

       the high street


                 and morals


before: living, evidently, forever.

            or maybe it just feels like it.


a more vicious person than I

would pray that that lot snuff it

before they have a chance to mess up Generation Alpha,

but we needn’t worry:

no one I know can afford or want kids

for some reason.

enforced poetry


we were standing around

the back of the shop

having a smoke.


he asked me:

were you here when that guy called me a fat bearded prick?


no, I said.


this guy called me a fat bearded prick, he said.




yeah. threatened to punch me, and all.

sez to me: you wanna punch, do you,

you fat bearded prick?




couldn’t give him a refund.


oh, I shrugged. of course


and if the sun was out

we would have been standing

in the shadow of the shop.


the sun wasn’t out,

but we were still standing

in the shop’s shadow,

you know? 

if you’ll allow me to force poetics upon this scene, like.  


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