We Have Everything!

It's morning shift at Safeways, home of the plastic fern

Dave's flown in from Baltimore and thinks it is his turn

To flog this ship with his mighty whip and stop it from capsizing

There's a big hole now in Frozen Fish, cos John's gone deep-sea diving

So Angel's pulled from Floral, it's enough to drive you crazy

For wilting Frank can't work with plants, and a doctor's note that says it

And then to make sad matters worse five Mexicans call in sick

They're off to march for workers' rights, but how's that gonna fix

Our problems with the cooler, and the rich from getting rich?

It's not the time to fight for rights, when badly we do need 'em

says Sue the brown-nosed checker, can't their church just feed 'em?

Sweet Amy dreams in Coffee, wears boots and is a painter

Sketches sketchy locals in chalks upon the pavement

Arranges 19 coffee-cups into a global statement

Used to wear black lipstick, still don't know what that meant

Fiona at the register is Norman Bates in drag

She hides behind her glasses, and a cool Adidas bag

And she doesn't like it when Trampo Steve refers to her as dad

As he slides another love-note onto sad Maria's chair

But it's not in Serbo-Croat, and she really doesn't care

That Angel's lost her eye-shadow, and that Luna's lost her fans

She used to work at Merrill Lynch, good money in her hands

Once voted high-school beauty, now rots in also-rans

Sticking half-price labels onto dented sell-by cans

Then Charlene Crystal shatters, wet tears on aisle 9

When Pete strolls by with Angel, as if she were his bride

But it's only to the mess-room, to swop some DVRs

For they share a love for wrestling and 1950s cars

Pete with 15 years in Meat has left his boat at home

He loves slasher movies, especially when he's stoned

He says, I'll see you later, but he would like to bone

Sue Woo Loo from Kiosk, it thrills him when she phones

Her mom in Beijing every day, fearing the unknown

Sue Woo is at the gas-station to buy a single rose

A year's supply of Playgirl and a gallon of No-Doze

She almost hit another car whilst reading On The Road

Bu her mind must stay on red alert as the Lotto scandal grows

But first she calls Fiona to secure a friendly ride

For Fred who's not returned to work since his great-great-goldfish died

Which is hardly fair on Simon, who's new and can't deliver

Enough soggy chickens for the deli-boys to sliver

But the news Fiona gives to Sue is sure to make you quiver

Her husband says, and this is grave, but surely he does reckon

Un-Homeland Insecurity has done a background check on

Said who works in Sandwiches, and Moe, our store detective!

But since they both are blonde and gay we reckon that's defective

Far more sense to dig in deep to the dumpster that disgusts us

For Fred has not been seen alive since the famous meatloaf rumpus

With Ric, the Swedish foreman, who drives an Astro van

Don't think of dreamy Abba think right of the Taliban

Tho he signed the card for Tony Dish, when he was sentenced to the can

For checkboook fraud and smashing doors, in a dark time of his life

He did get his job back, but not his pregnant wife

Who still comes in for coffee, and Amy loves those twins

She's done them both in oils and says that when she wins

The Lotto she'll adopt them, their mom and her are lovers

Both still think of Toe when they're hot beneath the covers

Plus Amy thinks of Crystal, and Crystal ponders Fred

Who always dreams of Angel who has Frank inside her head

At night the whole damn workforce is sleeping in one bed

Then it's morning-time and the hungry swine invade the busy store

With carts-full for the moneyed crew, and pockets for the poor

Then a sudden call for Tony, to wipe vomit from the floor

He says, "For Dave to clean it up, is that against the law?"

Then Fiona says that Brian says that Said says, then pause

another deadly feud's ensued behind the sliding doors!

Two refugees from New Orleons, and one has pulled a knife

Store-bacon brings his baton down as if they were his wife

And a tourist from Connecticut runs screaming for her life!

Then Fred who's not been seen for weeks strolls in and says, How strange

That two grown men should duke it out then call it Real Change!

Even grim Maria laughs, slow-fingering her note

Curious to what the handsome man in baggy trousers wrote

And when no-one's looking, she slips it in her coat

On aisle 9, by Crystal's tears, Mohammed's on the ground

Shouts, "Allah is Great!" Angel's eye-shadow's been found!

Miguel clocks in for half a shift, still planning to fall sick

But still can't fix the cooler, says he's strained both his wrists

And when Ric stares icily, he just rubs his crucifix

Dave the Slave from Baltimore is captain of this ship

But he's running to the bathroom and it isn't for a shit

His bong's inside the cistern and he's gonna take a hit

To help steer this sinking ship thru another 10-hour shift

Yuppies file these aisles for miles, yet they never will discern

From the bleary eyes and the mannered smiles, all the passions that do burn

Our workings and our playings we know they'll never learn

How completely half-assed customers are the least of our concerns

In high-life low-pay Safeways, home of the plastic fern

We don't get time for funerals, so we never get to grieve

We can't afford vacations, we look at photographs of trees

And if you want a pay rise, put padding on your knees

So everybody's quitting, but no-one really leaves

So if you can't find the chutney, sir, please don't look so stern

You can just drive out this lot and make a sudden turn

But we are here for many years, and every day we learn

What it is to love and laugh, in the land of the plastic fern




Anonymous said...

Oh - like you're one to judge.

martin marriott said...

hey, some of my best friends used to work for a living.

anyhow, it's not finished yet!

have I ever let Moma down before?

Anna Montana said...

Bravo Martin. You're best work yet!

martin marriott said...

I can't agree with that view myself!, because i feel it so failing in my aims, whereas my more 'regular' stuff is coming easier than ever. Perhaps you love the rhymes and the upbeatness, I love those things too, but rhymes like painter & statement are terible to my ears, (don't you think Bob Dylan would kill me for that?) and there's lots of it that i feel limps clumsily. I say everyone there is 'in bed together', but don't really convey it thru any weaving, intersecting intricacy of writing. I feel i've reached a point in my stuff when i kinda know how well i'm doing at certain aspects of it, and some folks may like it and some may not, and you do, and i take your comment as the most sincere and positive flattery!! But for great rhyming poetry I'd recommend you read Lewis Carroll, or Lear, and then I promise you'd see how pale and struggling this is!

Anna Montana said...

No no dear man, it wasn't for the rhyming that I loved it. It was for the weaving and the imagery that is portrayed -- and the down to earth human element. It is also nice to see you write something coherent for a change (not that I don't love your surrealist stuff). I can see you stretching and that's very nice. Something everyone can understand AND relate to, I think. That's why I gave the high marks. Still your biggest fan... (me)

Anonymous said...

Ya know Martin, I really liked this. It wasn't for the rhyming like you suggested to Anna, but it was just so intriguing. It left me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what was to come next. I do agree with Anna how this is your best work yet. Yes, there are a few things which could be fixed up a bit, ain't going to lie there. I particularly liked the "great-great-goldfish" that made me laugh. Oh how I miss my goldfish. Keep up the good work Friend.

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