Martin Hayes

Martin Hayes

Martin Hayes has worked in the courier industry for 30 years. His second book of poetry, When We Were Almost Like Men is published by Smokestack Books and he has another collection coming out with Culture Matters later in 2017.

stitching this universe together
Friday, 26 January 2018 18:26

stitching this universe together

Published in Poetry

stitching this Universe together

by Martin Hayes

Sadiq wants to stay a part of this control room, a part
of this bunch of chained cynical indebted men
who continually take the piss out of his haircuts
his shoes and his love life
who never cut him any slack whenever he makes a mistake
laughing and calling him names that Sadiq laughs back at
because Sadiq knows
that he will be a part of that pack in a couple of hours
and that the hands he uses to twist the shoes onto his 2-year-old’s feet every morning
and that wrap the scarf around her neck to keep her warm
and that slip her coat over her shoulders by the door
are the same hands as Mikey’s and Bill’s and Dermot’s and Javed’s
who every morning slip and wrap the same shoes and scarves and coats
around their children

Antoine wants to stay a part of this control room, even when it is him
who is on the receiving end of his fellow controller’s cruelty
taking the mickey out of him getting bollocked by one of the supervisors
as they circle and sharpen their minds
waiting for the quietest moment possible
before launching their one-liners and cusses
into his ears
causing the rest of the pack to crack up in fits of laughter
because Antoine knows that all of this
is done in the name of survival
a survival that enables Antoine to put cereal on the table in front of his 6-year-old boy pour
milk into his wife’s coffee cup keep
the car topped up with diesel the lights burning the roof solid the water hot the sun up in the sky
warming all of our hands and backs as we punch buttons on keypads lift
quarter ton engines out of vans haul
filing cabinets from one office into another office
and all because
we need to protect those castles
that we can safely pack our lives away in
whenever it gets cold

Stacey wants to stay a part of this control room
where despite all of the bollockings and bloodlettings she has been on the end of
she keeps getting up after being knocked down
constantly talking with enthusiasm about her end games, her outs
which this control room is going to give to her
which has her sitting on beaches lying next to Calvin Klein models
balancing Campari and sodas on their ripped stomachs
or behind the steering wheel of a 35 grand sports car
heading into a sunset the colour of a burning boys’ heart
or sat on the edge of a pool
dangling her feet in the water behind her paid-for home
with the sun holding her hand
and the ocean salting her hair
the same dreams in fact
that the woman sitting next to you on the bus has
that the woman typing figures into a computer terminal all day has
that the woman who scans your shopping at the checkout has
that the man sat at the top of a crane or in the cabin of a van has
the same dreams of freedom
that we all have
where we won’t anymore have to put up with a man
who feels the need to dehumanise and bully us in front of a room full of people
just because he is paid 4 times more
and has a reputation to keep

we all want to stay a part of this control room
for as long as possible
or at least until our hands cannot tap one single button more
on one of their keypads
or at least until our minds have given up
and can’t see through the hundreds of jobs
that keep dropping down onto our screens
or at least until our blood
stops foaming with this adrenalin
which allows us to understand and get through
all of those busy Friday afternoons
because in the end
don’t we need these jobs
for more than just their money
don’t we need these jobs
so that we can stand in front of mirrors
and look at ourselves
without feeling worthless
or disconnected
like a CEO must
like a President or Prime Minister must
like the head of an HR department must
don’t we need these jobs
in the same way that Martin Luther King needed his dream
in the same way that Rosa Parks needed to stay on that bus
in the same way that the Wilding needed equality
that gravity
pulls on the planets and stars
the same way that the sea
can never stop being the sea

we all want to stay a part of this control room
for as long as possible
because this is where we learnt
that the men and women who are employed by Phoenix Express
are the same
as every working man
and woman
and that all of our fingertips combined
might just be the fingertips
that keeps us and this Universe
stitched together

This poem is from Martin Hayes's forthcoming collection, The Things Our Hands Once Stood For, to be published by Culture Matters.

National Poetry Day: as the poets write about the smell of their dead fathers' tweed jackets
Wednesday, 27 September 2017 09:05

National Poetry Day: as the poets write about the smell of their dead fathers' tweed jackets

Published in Poetry

as the poets write about the smell of their dead fathers' tweed jackets

by Martin Hayes

a crust of dry bread has become the dream of millions
running water and one bar of electric heat
amenities out of reach for a quarter of the globe
as CEOs stand in their kitchens
warming their feet on underground heated slate tiles while peeling an avocado
slate
ripped from the earth by people whose hands have to squeeze the last drop of milk from a dead breast
wring a sleeping bag dry
so they can sleep at night without freezing their guts
people who have jobs but still have to queue in foodbanks just to feed their families
as their Prime Ministers and Presidents talk about nuclear wars
destroy
whole communities with an idea they had while playing a round of golf
people who once worked on a farm or in a call centre or under the ground
who now have no jobs because of an agreement signed on a jet
30,000 feet above the clouds
people who are moved on from country to country
unwanted
who have to live in makeshift camps for years
just because their God lost an election
and had His fingertips replaced on the trigger of a gun
people who can't clothe or take their children on a holiday anymore
because the price of oil drained from the ground 5000 miles away shot up into the sky
and closed all of their factories
people who once worked in industries long ago shut by progress
who once used their hands to rivet together ships haul a piece of steel out of a blast furnace replace
the heart of a 12 year old girl hand over a cup of tea to a miner squeeze
tomato ketchup into a factory worker’s bacon sandwich
who now sit at home with nothing to do
using those same hands to put together 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles
or knit hats for their grandchildren who will grow up to be a number
on a list of numbers who don’t have any jobs

as the poets write about the smell of their dead fathers' tweed jackets
are Forwarded £5,000 for a poem about the opening of a wardrobe
have enough time on their hands
to stand in front of mirrors
contemplating whether they exist or not
and books about wizards and bondage
sell millions

 

Roar!
Wednesday, 06 September 2017 08:31

Roar!

Published in Poetry

Roar!

by Martin Hayes

as we allocated out the thousands of jobs
trying to keep it safe and tidy
so that we could protect our minds and dignity
from the supervisors who would come out
every time they caught us fucking up
and try to strip it all away
by screaming and shouting at us
that we were “idiots”
and “fucking morons”
poets are writing about the shadows tulips cast in distilling light

and what help does that give us!

as we spoke to customers
whose jobs hadn’t been picked up on time
whose lives now will never be the same
trying to appease them by using our street learned charm
sweet talking them with our treacle tongue’s
convincing them that this was a one off
that will most certainly never happen again madam
poets are writing about their sexuality
and how hard it is coming to terms with it

and what help does that give us!

as we tried to manage the couriers needs
tried to convince them that we were not there
just to stitch them up
but were just trying to do our job
because we also had our rent to be paid
and our electricity bill to be paid
and our council tax to pay for
and our county court judgements to pay for
poets are writing about oak trees and how a bowl of fruit
left for a week on one of their 5-grand breakfast tables
gives off a scent that reminds them of their childhood

and what help does that give us!

as we get drunk on wine after our 55 hour weeks
move around our flats naked at 4 am on a Saturday morning
walking into the bedroom
holding our cocks out in front of us like surfboards
for our ladies to hop on
even though she stays half-asleep and screams at us to “fuck off!”
poets are writing about the smell of their dead father’s tweed jackets
and studying what type of poem they should write
if they want that editor
to put them in their magazine

and what good does that do us!

as we sit on toilets drunk
smoking cocaine
letting our heads loll about on our necks in complete happiness
complete uselessness
trying to wipe clean away
the consequences of the debt we are in
the worries of the recent takeover
the recent layoffs
the uncertainty of who will next
be squashed down into a digit
by their crunching of the numbers
and ejected out like a piece of industrial waste
poets are writing gutless poems
about irrelevant subjects
using fake words

and what good does that do us!

every day
when we walk in to do our shifts
put those headphones on
and begin allocating out the work
poets are writing about something

poets are always trying
to write about something

the trouble is
it often doesn’t ever mean anything
because none of their lives
are ever falling apart
quite enough to make their poems
ROAR! ROAR! ROAR!

and what good does that do us!

one block of council flats left
Thursday, 20 July 2017 21:34

one block of council flats left

Published in Poetry

 one block of council flats left

by Martin Hayes

just one block of council flats remains in this area
where we work our magic in
allocating out jobs to couriers
so that multinationals and £500-an-hour law firms
and hedge-fund managers who look after billions of pounds
can remain healthy and strong
making more money in one hour
than all the tenants of this last block of council flats left
will make in their lifetimes
put together

just one ugly block of brick and red cladded council flats still stands
amongst all of the million-pound lofts and chrome and smoked-glass luxury flats
that have sprung up in this area over the last 8-years just one
block with 42 flats
where couriers and mechanics and school teachers and bus drivers
and nurses and firemen and waitresses can still safely keep
a roof over their families' heads where they can
still wash and cook and put their children into a bed
and get them up to go into a school this one block of flats left
sat there like a rotten tooth in a row of perfect molars
housing these workers
enabling them to keep their dignity and love as millionaire footballers
move in next door as seven-figure-salaried-bankers buy whole floors
just so they can have somewhere to stay
while in London
as people in media hire cranes
to lift £30,000 pieces of furniture into their lofts as
politicians and councillors plot
how best they can make this last ugly block of council flats left
disappear
along with its infections

This poem was written six months before the tragedy at Grenfell Tower. Film by Ataman Kizilirmak.