January’s a recent graduate: cheap suit,
polyester or nylon, some shiny fabric.
New to the team. Golden handshake.
Keen to get its teeth into something.
Loads of ideas how to improve things,
make the place run more smoothly.
Has an eye on margins, cutting costs,
talks up efficiency gains, performance.
But its gung-ho attitude won’t wash –
they’ll have none of it. Oh, bugger off!

Prepped, it frisbees suggestions across
the meeting room, oozes business gurus
and management philosophy. It’s big
on case studies, the latest TED talk but
stinks of shaving gel, too much roll-on.
They roll their eyes as it goes to speak.
When it has fucked up, been bollocked
by the boss, and they’ve all watched
through the glass, some coax it out for
a pint, get it pissed, deal with it properly.





Paul Stephenson has published three pamphlets: Those People (Smith/Doorstop, 2015), The Days that Followed Paris (HappenStance, 2016) and Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press, 2017). He co-curated Poetry in Aldeburgh in 2018-19 and interviews poets at paulstep.com.