2015 04 – Sleepy Hollow (poem)


There is an industrial museum

where making a wage

was possible,

well, used to be,

the machines are polished bright

but there’s no foreman to duck

in glee

as he’s about to hold a symposium

when we take too long coming

back from a pee,

he knew he couldn’t do without


for up the road

is another job

five minutes by bus.

We were the machinists,

they who for export


the furnace men,

the precision toolmakers.

But have they heard of us

these worker-fakers

in their designer torn jeans.

No great belly of fire

makes the roof and walls


the massive guillotines

has lost all desire

to cut to length

the steel beams,

the great overhead crane

has lost its muscles,

it thirsts for electric

and creaks in vain.

This gigantic orchestra

no longer even hums,

could a Zarathustra

have forecast

this disempowering,

the pound shop, the food

bank, the call-centre,

the rough sleepers,

zero hour jobs,

the drug culture,

the under-class as yobs,

theme parks

peddling false history,

covering up their own

as a mystery,

the banking vultures,

the Primark-clad benefit-slums.

How we used to wind-up our mates,

a sort of rough love

without the hearts

and doves,

until the machinery starts.

The only sound of banter

now comes from under

Asia’s sweat-shop hoods.

The hooter for five-O-clock

knock-off-time slumbers,

steel shavings from the lathes

don’t roll in the draught

across the wood-block floor,

the ridging machines no longer

sings alto as it ploughs,

and where’s that canteen girl

we once adored.

Now it’s lights out,

lock-up time,

the tourist go,

the limp flag

no longer flows,

damp, bedraggled,

wrapped around the flagpole


in bold lettering it blags:



Wilson John Haire. 21st March, 2015