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‘The Court Verbatim Shorthand Reporter’

I have wielded my pencil like a sword at 140 words per minute
to record the minor mis-doings of the inhabitants of Staines,
frantically squiggled dots, dashes, chays, jays, hays and yays ─

in days before a ‘hay’ or a ‘yay’ was a common greeting
and Pitman 2000 sounded so futuristic
at around a double-decade ahead of its dating.

I have taken down all the evidence for Mister Harold Seed,
Clerk to the Justices, Dickensian in name and deed.
I have demolished notepad after notepad, beaten to death

my old manual Adler’s qwerty keys, carriage-returned
with a relentless ‘ding’, discretely cursed every error
and the ritual rubbing through four purple carboned

layers that often resulted in a hole. I have been slim,
pencil-skirted, unruffled by defendants’ misdemeanors;
the gangrenous flasher with his vital appendage

about to drop, stinking out the courtroom, even
though shielded by flapping greasy gabardine.
The day came when I lost this teenage pencil-poise,

my modish rhubarb-coloured legs wobbled as the Warrant
Officer announced the next defendant, a milkman
charged with discrepancies in the billing of his round,

dodgy dealings at the dairy ─ a Mr. Bernard Malcolm Lawson.
Suspicions were confirmed on peering from my pad ─
there stood my Uncle Malc, milk-white on the stand.


Jill Munro’s first collection Man from la Paz was published by Green Bottle Press in 2015. She has just won the Fair Acre Press Pamphlet Prize and her pamphlet The Quilted Multiverse will be published by Fair Acre on 22nd April 2016.

‘Kim’s course What Work Is has explored the many facets of work: unpaid, hated, loved, tools used, view of other people’s working lives etc. in a fascinating way. Work is not often discussed in poetry and this course has led me to re-connect with my past working life and produced poems which would have otherwise remained unwritten’

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Image credit: Sam Howzit