big hair, shoulder pads, tight jeans
Ronald Reagan and Dire Straits
VCR, VHS, CDs and AIDS
Gorbachev and glasnost.
Deregulation everywhere, the stock market
banks, savings and loans, marriage,
living in sin became partners and respectable
even the drug market
cheap, clandestine marijuana
gave way to proud, sophisticated cocaine
night skiing was what the parties were called.
conservatism was making a comeback.
In our small town a fundamental church had a retail shop
selling bibles, icons and spiritual reading.
in the front display
a leather strap with tooled hand grip
and a quote from Scripture
“ spare the rod and spoil the child ”
the item boldly displayed labelled,
the rod – with a price.
I thought her okay –
a step up from her predecessor.
The boss seem to think so too.
In the absence of crime
it’s easy to miss the clues,
on day three or four, of her first week
she picked up an expensive, large, catering grade knife –
the best in the kitchen
and beheaded several stalks of broccoli saying,
“a sharp knife is such a sense of power.”
Idle talk about gardening –
winter shaping of next summer’s roses
responded to with
“ I prune hard, very hard,
I like to do the same in the workplace.”
Part-time, very – 12 hours per week
15 if busy
fitted around the rest of my life,
study, swimming, house chores…
My co-workers grumbled around me
she’s so ….
until one of the cooks
more thoughtful than the others
said, “she’s always waiting …..
waiting to reprimand.”
If you say so
vinegar tits they called her and worse.
One afternoon a voice barks: “ WHERE’S THE CHECKLIST. ”
“ Right here Janine.
Why is it not on the shelf where it’s supposed to be
Two or three weeks later.
“ Where’s the checklist?
I’ll just get Janine,
why is it not at hand.”
My father told me about it,
but he never stayed there.
My uncles did, their employers had higher status
and bigger expenses.
Visitors from the provinces felt more than guests –
luxury, somewhat like staying in a castle.
12 or 14 stories
harbour views and out to the inner islands.
Private bars and dining rooms,
a cocktail lounge and ballroom,
where three times per year, black-tie functions
and the city’s elite.
once per year, white tie and the nation’s elite.
Prime location, by the railway station
just down the road from the university
I attended 25 years later.
I went there once or twice
splendour had passed
now surviving on cheaper drinks
and cheap rooms – by the hour.
Perhaps complacency was to blame
they didn’t see the danger on the less pretty side of town
the airlines and the airport did for it.