Work creation

Nobody’s closed a coal mine down
Or shut a shipyard in this town.
No locked gates at a lumber mill;
No steel plant dark and cold, but still
It’s ten a.m. and here I am:
Laid off, redundant. Not a damn
Thing I can do about it; they
Don’t seem to need this man today
Is all. Meanwhile, more bills arrive.
I know that, somehow, we’ll survive –
We always do – but life has left
Me on the sidelines. I’m bereft
Of solid skills. No place for me
In foundry, field, refinery,
Construction site or factory floor.
It’s hard to see what I’m good for.
You’ve got something to advertise?
Sure, I can help you: I’ll devise
Some clever lines to help it fly
Right off the shelves, make people buy
This thing they never even knew
They needed. This is what I do.
But not today. I’m not required.
Just sitting, waiting to be hired.
(So if you need some words that rhyme
Give me a call. I’ve got the time.)


Ah, the rollercoaster ride of being freelance. For five months, I’ve been working almost without a break: this week, things have dried up completely. After 15 years, I should be used to it, and I know the phone will start ringing again, but it doesn’t stop the silence being scary as all hell while it lasts. This is when I wish I had a proper craft or trade to fall back on! N.


8 thoughts on “Work creation

    • Hi – and thank you very much for your comment! Yes, always seems there’s too much or too little when you’re hoeing your own row. I don’t think my clients read my blog (or, at least, I hope they don’t!) but I’ve had a couple of jobs come through since I posted this, so I guess we shouldn’t underestimate the power of poetry! And always good to hear from Canada: still quite possibly my favourite place in the world, although it’s been way too long since I was last over there. Nick.

  1. Glad to hear it!! And lovely to hear you enjoyed Canada so much! Where in particular? I’m living in London right now, but I used to live just outside of Banff, and I miss the mountains so much. Though England has a beauty all its own that I’m very much coming to love 🙂

    • Great to have you with us here in the Old Country! I’ve been lucky enough to make three visits to Calgary, AB, en route to ranch vacations in Cranbrook and Clinton BC, most recently (if that’s the right word) in 1997! Had a couple of day trips to Banff and never forgotten it. Spectacular country. I’m in East Sussex, about 40 miles south of London: it’s tame stuff compared to Canada, but there are worse places to live, I guess! N.

  2. Ah, the reason I never had the stomach to freelance, Nick. I can’t say that I never had too little to do, though. Mostly I was so terrified of that possibility that I always took on too much and thus had no life but work. Now that I’m retired, however, I am having trouble writing when I never had trouble before, even during my most busy times. The lack of deadlines seems to work against doing what you want to do when you have all the time in the world to do it. I’m glad you’ve got contracts again. Still, I always celebrate when you are writing poetry.

    • Wonderful to hear from you, as always, my friend. Things are still pretty flat, if I’m honest; although a client called me yesterday with a potential project that could save February from being a total bust. The problem is, I’ve had a few days to catch my breath and really THINK – and that’s when I see my work, and the industry I operate in, for what they truly are. I’ve been doing this for 15 years, which is probably five years too long: the question is; what next? N.

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