Oh, uncomfortable benches,
And seats with desks that swing up
Accidentally hitting the arm of your next-door comrade.
like one’s enthusiasm
That distant odour of despair,
That familiar musk of forgotten showers and last night’s pasta dinner,
Of stale coffee breaths and peppermint chewing gum.
The gum that falls from the desk,
Sticking to your jeans like a clingy friend
An acquaintance runs in: just on time,
Revealing slides that look the same as last week.
And the week before that. And the week before that.
Facebook is summoned,
Scrolling is more thrilling under Big Brother’s eye
Maestro in the back row taps
his pen, persistent.
Collective nodding ensues, as if to soundless music.
Vacant approval. Feigned attention.
Just there, barely
The hand strikes 9:55,
A familiar flurry explodes,
Erupting in a cacophony of zips and murmurs.
The murmurs follow you out into the real world,
The world to which you run until next week,
My back longs for the discomfort of the benches.
My elbows crave the bruises of too close company.
My coffee breath searches for a companion.
My gum-free jeans plead for wear.
My Facebook scrolls wish for surveillance.
My silent room laments the tapping.
My head hunts for something to nod for.
My clock waits to have purpose again.
Dreaming of the lecture theatre.
A virtual Narcissus – the screen is my river.
I stare and I wait, endlessly, for