A Carrier Bag by Paul Brookes

As I put another’s shopping
through the till,

she shouts in my ear
“Can I buy a bag?”

She is not in the queue.
Doesn’t seem to notice it exists.

I apologise, queue gets longer,
my finger closer to the bell button

to call more staff to empty tills.
“O, please.” She says “Just one.”

The customer who waits
For her shopping tells her,

“Take one. Put money by his side.
Long as its paid for he won’t mind.”

Two shiny five pences appear by the till.
“And get out of my bleedin’ hair.”

Another one in the queue asks after
the bag lady to which the customer

who waits replies “She needs a bag
For shoplifting.” “That’s surely not true.”

“Afraid it is,” she says, pays and leaves.
Untold stories are unbought goods on shelves.

Paul Brookes was poetry performer with “Rats for Love” and his work included in “Rats for Love: The Book”, Bristol Broadsides, 1990. His first chapbook was “The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley”, Dearne Community Arts, 1993. He has read his work on BBC Radio Bristol and had a creative writing workshop for sixth formers broadcast on BBC Radio Five Live.

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