‘Hippy Get a job’, by Sarah Clancy

Hippy Get a Job

You might not realise your predictability
but when you caught my eye on Shop Street, at the demo,
I could see the thoughtless words forming in your brain
so before you shout them at me pass-remarkably
let me just stop you there for once, and in the gap between
now and when those words make it from your mouth
into the air between us, let me tell you something;
because I have wrestled with a pitchfork the same size as I was
and shovelled unknown tons of horse manure from sheds
before your mother brought you breakfast toast and tea
on school mornings before your leaving cert.

And when you daydreamed out the window of maths class
from an overheated room into the driving rain
I was lifting bales of sodden hay through the mud and bitter wind
to the bottom field where the old cow died in spring
and because I had small hands I woke a hundred early mornings
to turn unborn lambs around inside their mothers. While you were
filling college application forms and when you were accepted,
bringing weekend washing home on student discount busses
I was pitting my eight stone against half a ton of pulling racehorse
and couldn’t feel my fingers or open my eyes with the rushing wind

You then, qualified and interviewing in your shirt and tie and nerves,
while I was taking sweating tourists on foot through humid rainforests
carrying longhouse chief’s heavy gifts of pineapples nine hours back to base
in a country you don’t have the breath of mind to even imagine,
and nearer home when you guffawed into your pint glass and refused to leave
Taylor’s bar on Sunday early closings I washed your glass, swept the floor
and woke before the county to spend frozen hours putting
rubber bands on live lobster claws in a concrete tank in Bearna

And then I bet you were promoted for your clever corporate antics,
while I did three years mortgage-paying on the night shift
with bleary day time TV addicts and stoners manufacturing,
things you might one day have inserted after too many business lunches
then later on when I decided I needed education and you sat,
with popcorn consuming the latest Hollywood blockbuster
you couldn’t see me upstairs splicing your next bit of entertainment.
You have no idea how long a day is invigilating young accountants
in tedium and silence in dusty exam halls with the smell of fast food fat
still clinging to my clothes from my night time cash in hand gig.

You won’t realise that I have the streets of Galway imprinted on my brain
from delivering pesto and goats cheese pizza to your Knocknacarra sofa
or that I’m an expert on late night radio, and all night petrol stations;
secondary benefits of an un-free education, and now and here,
when I‘ve finally got myself some work I think has merit, and
I chose to use this day off, working to defend the rights of others
don’t be surprised at all at how quickly I abandon my principles of non-violence
and use this placard on you, as a weapon, if you say what you are thinking.

© Sarah Clancy

Thanks to Sarah Clancy  for the poem,  Hippy Get a Job, which is taken from Thanks for Nothing Hippies , which will be launched in April 2012, by Salmon Poetry. I have featured Phrase Books Never Equip You For The Answers , here.

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