Working from Home (La Dolce Vita) – a poem by Paul Stephenson

Working from Home (La Dolce Vita)


Monday morning, and I’m meant to be working, but how can I,
what with the men and their machines digging up the street below?
I’ve tried white noise, but my ears get hot. I’ve tried ocean waves 
crashing against the shore, downpours in tropical rainforests.

I was livid when they showed up. We’re all working from home you know!
The pavement opposite is newly cobbled and looking beautiful.
I felt proud of them. Then last week, nothing – not a man, not a van, 
not a pneumatic drill. Had they achieved too much too quickly?

They’re back today. And the gas people have got the slabs up.
I just watched a man fix a chain around the neck of an old
parking meter, then stand back as his mate in the Caterpillar
ripped it from the road, hoisting it into the air, holding it up high

like the statue of Jesus with outspread arms, carried by helicopter
over the rooftops of Rome in the opening scene from Fellini.

Paul Stephenson has three pamphlets: Those People (Smith/Doorstop, 2015), The Days that Followed Paris(HappenStance, 2016) and Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press, 2017). He co-curates Poetry in Aldeburgh and currently lives between Cambridge and Brussels.

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