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The Dole Queue (Circa 1990)

In front and waiting for recompense
Head bowed in this queue of veiled pretence
Stands John, out of work, hoping never to see
Any friends who might see him taking dole for a fee
His plush modern office, all behind him now
Mahogany doors closed, and God knows how
The job dedicated to fifteen long years
Has ended and left him with empty fears
T’was yesterday he stood ten feet tall
A proud, happy figure, the boss of them all
And now here he stands feeling helpless and cold
For there are no jobs for executives old

Behind him stands Alice, feeling anger and fear
A Degree in Arts is rewarded here
Four years of toil and odious stress
Her skills now fading in hopelessness
Her shining ambition to teach all the young
And now it seems her dreams are undone

Behind these two people, Mick Smith alone stands
The job that he lost paid for home and his land
Now where can he go and what can he do
To try and find jobs, but there are just so few
But again he does try and try yet some more
“Sorry,” they say, as they’re closing the door
“It’s a young man’s job” or “you live way too far”
Rejections are tough, and they do leave a scar

The mortgage repayments remain ever due
Mick’s job was needed to pull him through
The bank’s interest payments continue their drain
Those mountains of payments, he wonders the gain
Why must the small man pay for the cost
Of bankers’ crass folly, to make good their loss?
Banks’ losses mount at each every turn
As if all that money was theirs, just to burn

And so waits Mick in this queue full of souls
Where each has a story that needs to be told

The next one down is apprentice, young Joe
Two years he’s trained and two years to go
His dream as a tradesman now never may be
The sense of this all? How cruel fate can be

Behind Joe is Susan, she stands in the file
Trying to keep up her sweet, kindly smile
For there’s hardly a job when you’re fifty two
No choice at all but to stand in this queue

Then suddenly at the front of the queue
The counter is opened and there stands in view
The chief recompenser with appropriate poise
Suddenly quieting the ambient noise
And slowly and surely his gaze centres on
The bowed head and eyes of disconsolate John
“Next” issues forth in stentorian tone
And forward goes John in haste to get home

So onward they go, all the people in file
All worthy people just down for a while
What is it that makes our Society so
To make all these people feel sad and so low

And if you think no, no never, not me!
Then think again, for tomorrow … maybe?

The Dole Queue (Circa 1990)

Tom Newman

Frankston, Australia

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