Friday, January 29, 2010

Safeway by Jack Ohms


Bagging canned soup, frozen peas,
just-add-boiling-water sauce
and something for the long weekend,
I smirk to see the teenagers
huddled against the plate-glass window
of the supermarket foyet,
not sensing the urgency of Time.

From under tousled, bleach-dry hair
in bedroom-studied boredom
they watch, grin, sneer and nudge each other
as down the numbered line
old farts fumble cash and cards
and three-for-two-bit cut-out coupons,
then totter, gathering, to snoring cars
and bull-nosed buses to blank estates,
or taxi's ticking over awaiting the elderly
with their barely-a-portion ready meals,
carbolic soap and tinned peaches
swinging like quickening pendulums
between zimmer frame and bingo wings.

They snigger at the way we look, dress,
scowl and hobble about our daily 'business';
our almost totally meaningless movements -
because they know: they've seen the clear,
bright vision of their youthful senses
and it has not told them a lie and I
like to watch them watching us,
as the security guard in antique volume green
hoofs them out into the cold afternoon,
over the tired and endless truckscape;
bankrupting, writing-off their precious identity
against our out-moded machinery;
sending them to Sunday-coloured idleness
until their time comes to stand in line
for want of anything much better to do.

The porridge oats go through with a BLEEP.
I pay up, smile and quietly - and to myself -
wish them well and walk the long drag home
to re-fry yesterday's beans and rice,
stir in those frozen peas and light a fire.