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Poetry: Minimum Wage Entertainment by Paul Tanner

minimum wage entertainment 

by Paul Tanner

we had this competition going
where we’d see who would have to 
repeat themselves the most. 

so like, a customer would ask one of you:
got any blah blahs left? 
and you’d say no,
and he’d say what, none at all? 
and you’d say no,
and he’d say, none in the back? 
and you’d say no

and meanwhile, your colleague 
would be at the counter, 
tallying it up on a bit of receipt paper …

your customer would say, you haven’t got any reserved for someone else?
and you’d say no
and he’d say, you sure about that? 
and you’d say yeah
and he’d say, right, and that’s final, is it? 
and you’d say, yeah
and he’d say, so what you’re telling me is, you haven’t got any? 
that’s what you’re telling me, is it?
and you’d say yeah.
ok, he’d say, well, thanks for wasting my time
then march out 

and Kieran would be like: damn, son, seven times! we have a winner!
and you’d tell Kieran: yeah, two sugars please, you know, 
because the loser had to put the kettle on? 

but there’d still be everything to play for 
as a middle aged woman 
with a church hat 
trotted in,
her face pinched 
in anticipation of 
her inevitable disappointment. 

About the author

Tanner has been earning minimum wage, and writing about it, for 15 years now. No, really. His novel ‘Jobseeker’ is on Amazon. He was shortlisted for the Erbacce 2020 Poetry Prize. His latest collection ‘Shop Talk: Poems for Shop Workers’ is published by Penniless Press.

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Created in 2014, Flashes is a privately owned literary website. We publish short stories, non-fiction, flash fiction and poetry. Our goal is to give talented writers a platform to showcase their creativity, with an emphasis on original voice, innovative style and challenging plots.

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