Question The Campaign

Meeting Minutes for Monday 1 March between CEO  & Head of Campaigns

 “What’s our campaign this week?”

“Maybe – tackling food poverty?”

“That’ll raise the charity’s profile and brand, yeah?”

“We’ll use some vloggers to tell people how to eat and budget properly and create some hashtags, perhaps?”

“How about telling people to use Food banks?” 

   “Do you want to spend big on this campaign?”

“No, No – I’ll just get the PR team to send some free stuff to the vloggers and buy their weeks shopping how much do you reckon that’ll cost?”

        “We’ll tell the vloggers they’re ambassadors for this campaign, they’ll love that and a week’s shopping and some of that promotional fairtrade stuff lying in the warehouse, total outlay under £1000?” 

“Sounds great, can you make sure we get the social media team and the vloggers to add the JustGiving links?”

         “To the food banks?”

“No to our charity, we can get Legal involved to get a disclaimer put in so we can say a percentage of donations will go to the Food bank can’t we?”

“Of course, just wanted to make sure, should I give you the metrics in a couple of weeks?”

That’s great, so is that it?

Meeting Minutes for Monday 1 March between CEO  & Head of Campaigns

“I called you in just to ask for the final metrics for the tackling food poverty campaign?”

“Bit of a success. We raised just over £3million in the past couple of weeks, once we get the gift aid revenues from HMRC, that’s £4million and we’ve had tonnes of clicks, likes, and retweets, we were even trending on Twitter, how much should I transfer to a food bank charity?

How much did it cost in the end to run?

“All in all £1250, PR decided to use a ‘premium’ grocer. I watched one of the Vloggers videos, a bit preachy about organics but they prepared a Katsu Curry with Sticky Jasmine Rice only £7.37 per portion, can you believe it?”

How about we give £100k? 

“Sounds good, we’ll tackle food poverty again yeah?”

“Yeah it’s a good little earner and I think we have done the Food bank charity a favour, don’t you?

“Sure?”

Thanks for taking the time to read this poem. It is an experimental piece. I hope you enjoyed it.

Take it Easy,

Paul.

Weekends At The Club

Quid in the jukebox
The Jam, Bowie, Queen, Elvis –
Presley – not Costello

grass-green baize
torn and twisted in places
twenty pence a shot
free on Saturday afternoon
when it’s a fiver-a-man tournament
winner takes all
no chalk for the cues though

footy on the telly screens
piracy definitely
we don’t complain
it’s the best pint in town
and they do pork scratchings

they’ve got a bloke
who does runs to the bookies
backs himself to return the betslip
in under 10 minutes
he gets a drink either way

the old gagdies tell tales
of when they worked the shipyards
or some down the pits
they shake your hands every time
theirs brittle –
scarred with hard graft
and union strikes

sometimes it gets rowdy
when the domino crowds in
accusations of cheating
to win a 2 quid pot
it soon settles down
like the best pint in town.

*******

Thanks for taking the time to read this poem, inspired by weekends and evenings spent in the social club in my hometown, which are an important part of the North, unfortunately declining in recent years. If you get the chance, pay one a visit, and sign up with them depending on their membership requirements.

Take it easy,

Paul

That Shirt

that thick cotton shirt
shade of  deep midnight
with moon-silver thread 
glistening ethereal under streetlights
wearing it
felt celestial
so I only wore it once
for our first date
drinks and pizza
looking at each other
over red gingham cloth
and flickering candle
wax dripping down
an empty bottle
of last week’s
house wine
conversation mostly answers
to silent questions
asked with eyes
and the curve of
nervous lips
I tried to be a gentleman
and pull out your chair
as we were leaving
the waiter saw it as an affront
for which I apologised
to show I was a gentleman
and when we hugged goodbye
I felt our cheeks touch
both warm with wine
and affection
so when I see
the same shirt
folded neatly in your drawer
close to the memory box
and wedding album
I catch a glimmer from
the moon-silver thread 
that helped stitch
our lives together
I believe in magic.

Thanks for taking the time to read this poem, dedicated to my beautiful wife.

Take it Easy,

Paul

Killing Time In NYC

There was nothing ornate or sparkly about the dagger in her hand. It was her instrument of death. The blade was fatally sharp and coated in black oxide to prevent any glints from flashing in the restroom mirror that may alert her target. She had learned that bruising lesson in Berlin a couple of years ago. 

She had been waiting almost an hour in the stall, still focussed. There had been a trickle of visitors in the first thirty minutes or so who had added some floral fragrances from the handwash and their perfumes. The occasional waft of garlic, beef, and seafood permeated the walls which made her lick her lips.

A clean, crisp server’s uniform with a stranger’s name on a white plastic rectangle, a purse, and a blonde bob wig hung on the back of the door looking down on her. That was the only company she had. She had rigged the remainder of the stalls with a remote control locking device and they were now all set to ‘occupied’. Can’t have any distractions or witnesses. It was a waiting game which she would always win. She’d not waited in Berlin and that had ended badly.

To pass the time, she thought about the small space she was operating in. There was no room for a struggle. She knew it would be a quick kill. The dagger allowed that. In. And. Out. A few times. Rhythmically. 

She placed the dagger in the purse. Removed her phone from her pocket and checked an app that was streaming the CCTV of the restaurant floor. It was busy for early evening, probably a theatre crowd, she thought. Her eyes were drawn to the round table in the back. Her target, a heavy-set woman in her fifties wearing a figure-hugging scarlet dress that accentuated her curves, was just finishing a glass of wine that had been spiked by the sommelier, with a specially formulated laxative, at a cost. One hundred dollars, her phone number (which was fake), and the promise of a date. After two minutes she saw the look on the target’s face change from joy to fear. She watched her stand up reading her lips as they mouthed “I don’t feel so great, I’m just going to nip to the ladies’ room.” The target clutched her stomach. When she saw this she used her phone to unlock the cubicle directly next to hers then put it in her purse. It gave the target only one destination. Controlling the situation was the key to her success.

The night before, before rigging the locks, she had timed how long it took to walk from the same table to the restroom. She took into account the extra patrons and factored in the polite shuffling of chairs for the target to get by, estimating it would take her target around two minutes to reach the sanctuary of the restroom. She wondered whether they would make it there before soiling herself. It sometimes happened. It had in Berlin.

The hurried click-clack of heels on the restroom floor tiles announced her target’s arrival. She lifted the dagger in her hand, feeling its perfectly balanced weight in her palm. She listened as the clack got louder and closer, hearing the lock on the stall next door slide into place, the gentle thud of flesh hitting the wood, panting groans, and a violent explosion of crap hitting the pan. Her target sighed deeply, then in a low, thick New York accent said “Thank fuck I made it in time”. A smirk slid across her face. She had made it. She waited for the target to stop tearing the luxury toilet roll and for the flush. It ended being a couple of flushes. It wasn’t a surprise based on the amount of paper used. When she heard the door unlock and a more relaxed click-clack of heels on tile and the sudden rush of water, the waiting game was over. 

She stepped outside the stall, knowing that the noise and possibly shame would make the target turn around instinctively. Which she did. The dagger plunged deep into her throat. In. Out. No need to worry about screams. Then the dagger was plunged into the target’s heart, the thin blade scraping between the ribcage. No heartbeat. A quick kill. She walked calmly to the restroom entrance and locked the door. Then she returned to her target and went to work on the rest of her vital organs, precisely, rhythmically, then finished chaotically with a frenzy of slashes. Her clients had paid extra for that. Something about sending a clear message to some crime family, but she wasn’t interested in why. 

She cleansed the blade of blood under the running sink and went back to her stall, navigating around the slowly seeping pool of blood. Put the blade in the purse, took out her phone to take a picture to confirm her kill, and used the apps to unlock all the other stalls and turn off the CCTV in the hallway connecting the restroom, entrance, and kitchen. She changed into the uniform, fixing the nametag so it was straight.  She hid her other clothes in the toilet tank. She left the stall clutching her purse and used the mirror to straighten her wig. She looked like the name on her tag. Sasha. She walked to the restroom door and unlocked it. 

She was face to face with a younger woman, mid-twenties from the same table as her target. “Oh, sorry, this restroom is out of order”. Her words came out musically. “I’m looking for my mom” the girl replied in a lighter version of that thick New York accent. “You’re on the round table at the back yes?, I think I saw someone from your table with a red dress run into one of the accessible restrooms, the middle one I think, she didn’t look so good, give me a tick, I’ll just lock up here and grab the Out of Order signs from the storeroom, and let’s see if I can help you find her” her tone was reassuring. The daughter smiled and stepped back to let her lock the door watching her shuffle the keys to find the right one. “Thanks Sasha, that would be great”. 

She left the girl by the locked restroom door then walked into the kitchen, turning and holding up her fingers in a peace symbol to indicate it would be two minutes as she slid through the door. She glided past the busy fish and sauce sections and out into a yard where the staff had cigarette breaks. She asked for help, pretending to struggle to open the black security gate then walked to the end of the alley, dropping the wig into a dumpster, and stepped out into the slipstream of New York foot-traffic.

She walked casually to the end of the block hopping into a vintage boutique. She picked out a full outfit including a stetson and a pair of suede cowboy boots. She giggled with the sales assistant saying she had a date at a line dancing bar and wanted to look the part. She asked if she could pay and get changed there and then. Her eyes smiling and hopeful. She knew she had an easy way with people. The sales assistant agreed. She handed over a credit card. It was printed with someone else’s name on it. She asked for a bag for her belongings and headed for the fitting room. She removed the dagger from her purse and wrapped it up in the trousers from the server’s uniform and placed them on top of the shoes that were nestled tightly in the bottom of the bag, folding the rest of the clothes neatly on top. She tipped the assistant fifty dollars and walked out to hail a cab. 

The cab driver was Jamaican and talkative, giving out tidbits of New York trivia believing she was a tourist. She instinctively glanced over her shoulder at the sound of the sirens and saw the unmistakable blinking of an NYPD squad car echoing behind her. She asked to be dropped at Times Square and said he could take his time. She thought about the daughter of her target wondering whether it was her who raised the alarm. She would make sure to check the news websites over the next few days to see if it was reported. It wasn’t out of sympathy, she simply would like to know. She took out her phone and removed the sim card, snapping it in two and dropping it to the floor of the cab. She knew she’d never be caught or prosecuted. Her clients valued her too much. But a loose end is a loose end. She thought of Berlin. Control the situation. She inserted a replacement sim card then turned the phone back on.

She got out a block from Times Square. Tipped the driver fifty dollars. She quickly found a dumpster and discarded the bag of clothes and her dagger. She spent time gazing at the dazzling lights, inhaling the smell of a busy New York evening, the city felt alive. Until her next assignment, she only had time to kill. And where better to kill it than right here?

Thanks for taking the time to read this short story, I hope you enjoyed it. It’s my first time writing in this form so would appreciate any feedback. I may write a series based on the main character…

Take it easy,

Paul.

What Is A Fire Without Flame?

a dispassionate mound
of glaucous ash
the warmth lost
ready to die out
at any moment

or rather

a scattering of embers
the reminder of warmth
we shared
when flames flickered in frivolity
kissing and caressing
kindling and coal
when white,gold and ochre
danced
as strong as they could 
for as long as they could
to the gentle chaotic rhythm of crackling
shades of silver in the hearth
silently whispering
Live Life Like The Fire.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this poem and are having a great day.

Take it Easy

Paul

Image courtesy of Canva.