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The Office Canteen

I work in the office canteen
Where the walls are blue & the borders green
And there's so many suits without heads
And the air is obscene.

From spotless passageways lit bright above
Just like at school, they come. The lunchtime break.
A mime industrial; carpet shuffle; floorboard creak.
Gargoylic glares more sad than fierce look
Upon their bait: the vats of mince. The hook:
I catch their eye, they hunger for the stove.

And then the few that do not gorge on chips
Will swarm about the iron salad bar
(That formulaic sustinence bazaar)
Saliva wet for tuna-sweetcorn rolls.
I hand them fish and smile at watery holes
They quiver back, devouring their lips.

I work in the office canteen
Where the walls are blue & the borders green
And there's so many suits without heads
And the air is obscene.

Decanting fish from tin to box to bowl
I watch them chew a tunafish or cow
I think about the fishermen and how
Their blue expanse is greater than the sky
That's shuttered out of each and every eye
In this grey torture chamber of the soul.

These bodies in their roles are never heard.
But for in this canteen are never seen.
Consumers of cadaverous cuisine
Dormant and glum; these headless hordes
All daily falling on their forks and swords
I make my humble theatre absurd.

I work in the office canteen
Where the walls are blue & the borders green
And there's so many suits without heads
And the air is obscene.

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Pablo Neruda

If You Forget Me

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