They are the harbingers...

They are the harbingers of hard times for a business…

 

Somehow, the man with the bag

from an airline that no longer exists

knows the shop is in the wrong place.

His attentions mean the traffic will pass through other doors

coursing through zones of higher rent.

 

Only he alights at one end of the counter,

like the insects attracted to sick eucalypts,

better analyst than the B.Coms with fractal ties

and earlobes studded with tiny hunches.

His querulous denunciations of life, or love,

or the last person to slap his face or his hopes

echo in the high nest-rustling trusses of the market hall

 

while the butcher skewers price tickets

shoving entrails forward into the pink neon light

with deuteronomic gestures

as if to propitiate the man in the baggy corduroy.

 

Because, for a moment, as you too pass through

to the mall’s meringue realms

it seems you catch something, sotto voce

but intelligible, something like “Cry out,

For the economy is a god

Who must be woken.”

Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology 2008