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Poem: Basket of Goods by Hannah Levene

The below poem is written by Hannah Levene, commissioned for Living Wage Week by the National Centre for Writing. 

Basket of Goods 

by Hannah Levene

there are some jobs 

you lose / there are some jobs

you stick at or get or get 

            stuck to:

1. hours worked valued less than

            basket of goods

made up for by 

the amount of stationery (stick, stuck)

            i have stolen from the stationery cupboard.

i am using fistfuls of mechanical pencils 

to represent the deficit  

            between the minimum

and the living 

wage. 2. at tesco i offer to trade

sellotape for

the remainder of my 

basket of goods. (no dice) “basket of goods”

doesn’t that sound nice? not basic 

but

sort of

baked or like a dog bed or a baby’s crib or something

full of fruit? employers ask why: 3. the staff 

       (apple)                                                  turn over. 

the staff get

stuck but

they don’t

stay.

[interview with barista whilst they steam milk:] 

A: i have tried to feel grateful for

minimum wage

but i have only ever felt

hungry.

A: i wish i could reconcile how

stuck 

i feel (8 coffee shops in 10 years)

with how many jobs i’ve left. i wish i could reconcile how

stuck 

i feel with 

how little you expect me to 

stay.

                                                                   4. the Living Wage

takes fistfuls of fresh air on its lunch break.

it puts on its coat and hat and turns the light off leaving the office last

it welcomes living 

into what has 

only ever felt like

work. 

 

You can download and read the poem here, or listen to the audio version here.

13th November 2020
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