Frustrations in the Office, by Sarah James

Frustrations in the Office

i) Behind the blinds

The office chair has an angle
on everything. Going nowhere itself,
it still feels it’s earned a higher position,
would floor all competition.

Despite purpose-moulded plastic
and a firm spine, it has learned
to turn its back on others’ pressure,
cushions itself against stress.

It refuses to carry excess weight,
won’t budge when asked to do more
than simple tasks, barely conceals
its steel tones and hard edges.

But, once the blinds are closed
and the night watchman passed,
it spins round and round on the spot,
imagines taking charge, and stock.

Instead of stationery, new wheels.
Oil, polish and, with the whole office
waiting on its orders, hope even
of finding a desk that’s a perfect match.

ii) Non-PC Ideas

This desk is tired of feeling used,
fed up of ending up pushed
into a corner or back against the wall.

It’s had enough of being treated
as part of the furniture, overlooked
by all or constantly dumped on:

PCs, screens and mice; piles
of paper and files; coffee mugs,
dirty stains and laptops; boxes,

and more boxes. Five years too
working with the same chair,
and, when their legs brush, no sign

that it could share the desk’s rush
of anticipation, that hint of a shiver of
a tingle of electricity, static or not,

which lets ungrounded hopes thrive.
One day the chair will notice it –
the battered desk wishes silently…

but remains stuck there ignored.

Sarah James is a poet, fiction writer and photographer. Her latest collection, Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic (Verve Poetry Press), is partially inspired by having type one diabetes since she was six. For her, good laughter is a medicine, sometimes even a path towards positive change. Her website is at


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