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Intrusive air-con, noisy workers
Too-bright white on screens and walls
Migraines, tinnitus, translucent static
Meetings in glass goldfish bowls.

Pithy soundbites on the china
Mantras etched in turquoise (or teal)
Pep talks vague and drained of meaning
Humdrum bustle, less than real.

Numb bereavement; felt like skiving
Program faults and code's awry
Unplugged from where work is going
"I'm fine": an acquiescent lie.

Battered thoughts and scattered colleagues
No safety-net; just watch me fall
Like I can just "knock off the waterworks"
Made to feel worthless; small.

Prefer to sit with rows of strangers
Can't decipher my boss's face
Plan my hours to try avoid him
Night before, feel my heart race.

Who'd've thought I was in Mensa?
Brain sieves thoughts and fog and fears.
Oblivion's late; my hips are aching
Toss and turn till sleep appears.

Wake up yawning, down a cuppa
Scan my e-book on the bus
Slink to desk without a murmur
Introverts don't make a fuss.

Surreptitious character backgrounds
Putting off the code or spec
Brighten up if it piques my interest
Batten down if they come to check.

On the spot: I can't remember
Things I used to ace before
"Name this process." "Need an estimate."
It's either too hard or a soul-numbing chore.

Need a framework, not a sandbox
Someone show me what to do
Fixing others' code is easy
Freeze up if it's something new.

Dreading meetings on performance
Focus on the worst that's said
Rude? Standoffish? Reduced bonus.
"Dog New Tricks" pours through my head.

Can't partake of birthday goodies
Pubs and nightclubs? guarded; shy.
I don't want to know these people
My thunderclouds mar their pure blue sky.

The news cascade is more a trickle
From faceless managerial NPCs
Spartan prison, alone together
Drowned in progressive policies.

The culture's changed from cosy to stifling
Till my face no longer fits
Treading water till school-run claims me
Leave as early as flex permits.

Boss went golfing for his jollies
Same week as the heavy rain
Imagined him being struck by lightning
So I wouldn't see his face again.

Dream of winning loads of money
Can't afford to change career
Tried that once and fucked up royally
Not fair on those near and dear.

Put a brave face on for my family
Can't describe what's borked inside
Tongue lashes out when I can't stop it
Chimp's Tea Party? Wish I could hide.

Worry that my eldest's like me
"Bright but reserved" his teachers say
Easily bored but wary of new things
Retires to his attic for most of the day.

Repetitive incremental gameplay
Comfort in mindlessness; tune my world out
Just five more minutes of matching or mining
Temporary sandbags for the mind's redoubt.

Few can pierce that indifferent surface
How long's this been going on?
Sickness, deaths and fails aplenty
Reserves I had are suddenly gone.

More and more my mask is cracking
Less and less I seem to care
Icy spikes shield roiling centre
Release the bitter maelstrom there?

Aphasia skewed the words he uttered
Nursing home that smelt of death
Believed each visit was the last one
Not there for his final breath.

Lost myself 'twixt health and mourning
But unsure I want the old me back
Yet how can I choose if I'm given no quarter?
      My
         core's
       the
frailest
    thing
    on
    a
teetering
    stack.
Anyhow, share and enjoy? Or whatever...
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Submitted on
August 7, 2015
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