The Big Idea

We were working out our redundancy notices.
We talked on the phone all morning,
looted the stationery, sat around in the canteen
thinking of ways to get rich quick:
maybe write a bestseller, maybe window, cleaning
– all you needed was a bucket and ladder,
low capital investment. We emptied our desk drawers
– was this it? the sum total? – and when fire-engines
got snarled in the traffic we stood at the windows
and cheered. It was like the end of term
or the decline of the West, what we’d hardly dared
dream of seemed suddenly possible. Like Susie,
who planned to spend her pay-off on a one-way ticket
to China. She had purple lipstick
and a penthouse flat. She could hold her breath longer
than anyone I’ve known. We were completely
unsuited, but for the time in question love
was a thing I almost believed could filter through
to the junk yards, the scams, the base-line
of the national economy.

from Paleface (Faber, 1996), © Charles Boyle 1996, used by permission of the author.

Charles Boyle in the Poetry Store

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