Taught To Treat All by Paul Brookes

he sits opposite my desk

hands me the job card
“I want to apply for this,” he says.
I can smell him from here.

In the unemployment benefit office
he is labelled N.F.A. No Fixed Abode.

I’m taught to treat all equally.
I arrange an interview
with his prospective employer.

Once he has left I am called
to a meeting with my boss.

“What were you thinking of
When you arranged an interview

for the likes of him? Employees
Want decently dressed applicants?”

“I thought he would clean himself
up to go to the interview,” I offered.

“You should have called me, as if
you were calling the employer.

I’m sorry you’re not suitable
for this position. I’m terminating
your employment with immediate effect.”


Paul Brookes was poetry performer with “Rats for Love” and his work included in “Rats for Love: The Book”, Bristol Broadsides, 1990. His first chapbook was “The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley”, Dearne Community Arts, 1993. He has read his work on BBC Radio Bristol and had a creative writing workshop for sixth formers broadcast on BBC Radio Five Live.


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