Three hours to go – a poem by JOSIE ALFORD

Three hours to go

The dial tone

Again begins

Its ever repeating dirge

Its soporific effect

Weighs down my lids

As I wait

And wait

For the next one


Maybe I’ll make a sale

And I hate myself for caring

The figures on the board

All red and read too much

Attempt to motivate

the bowed heads around me

Incapacitated by the pressure

Of unreachable targets.


Hello. We’re not available now

But please leave a message

After the tone.


I peal my eyes open

Straighten my back

And reflect

The robotic cheerfulness

As I leave another message

Another plea

For a returned call.


I regurgitate

The all too rehearsed

Speech and I begin

To think.


In vain stifling another yawn,

I wonder how I got here.

How my degree

In English literature

Spoken with fingered quotation marks

By colleagues

Led me to this place

Devoid of creativity and culture


How I got rejected

From so many better jobs

In so many better companies


How I ever hope to save

The money to return to education

When I barely pay rent at all.


The message is over.

Hang up the phone.

Check the list.

Dial the number.

It all begins again

I return to the dial tone’s cold embrace.


Two hours and fifty five minutes to go.



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***Josie lives in Bristol after graduating in English from UWE. After writing a collection of sonnets for her dissertation, Josie has been rebelling against the restrictive form and writing about life after university. Working as a receptionist, it seems that it is not the career filled utopia she first thought. Follow her on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/AlfordJmo ****

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