divider with barbed wire

I wrote this poem a few years ago but looked it out and re-editied it when a friend recently mentioned barcodes. In fact, I think the first version of the poem even predated self-service checkouts. Post-covid some of it perhaps now seems to belong to a distant time, when people stood closer in the supermarket queue, and we handled small plastic dividers that were placed between our shopping and the next person’s.  Everything changes – but some of this ancient history was less than a year ago, so hopefully, it’ll ring a bell, or at least sound a familiar small electronic bleep. 



Nipped out quick
checking in to 
the supermarket queue
to checkout £4.75
of Mayday indulgence.

Strategically locating
the next-customer demarcator –
this is mine now, mine alone.
In chorus, lined behind 
a suburban opera bickers:

    She is getting very bratty.
        Yes, she’s getting very bratty.
    You are getting very bratty!
    You are bratty, you are spoiled!

    She’s a proper little basket.
        Yes, a proper little basket!
    I’ve had enough now, had enough
    now, that’s enough now, that is IT!

Corner-eyed I register,
undefined hostility,
struck-through runkles 
plough furrowed brows,
enmity, eight-to-life.

Ahead a woman passes her
(it’s labeled, so we know)
        compact entrenching tool
to be blessed by blind inquisition
of that un-judgemental laser light.

Will it fortify allotment borders,
bury a lately composted doubt,
or succour deeply seeded beliefs?

Another plastic meridian drops behind,
consumer crowd control,
policing the shopping line.



About stevedsmart

Steve Smart is an information designer, poet and visual artist. View all posts by stevedsmart

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