What Can You Do?, by John Murphy

What Can You Do?

You know what it’s like
when you open a can of beans
and empty them into a bowl
and you look in the can
and there’s 4 or 5 beans
that resolutely refuse to move?
So you hit the bottom of the can
to shift those beans but they have
only moved halfway down the can?
So you have to get a spoon
to get them out. and it’s a clean spoon.
F***ing hell, you have to get a CLEAN
spoon to shift those f****ers into the bowl.
More bloody work for me washing cutlery,
which, by the way, I F****ing hate.
Modern life. What can you do?

You know what it’s like
when you start to nod off
when reading a book and you lose
your place in the book because
you dropped it? And you snap awake
and wonder what the F***k, where am I?
And then you try to get back into the book
but you don’t remember the last 20 pages you read?
Modern life. What can you do?

You know what it’s like
when wrapping a parcel
you can’t get the edge
of the sellotape, because
you can’t see it on the tape spool
and you have to feel around the spool
to feel the edge? And then you spend
F***ing ages trying to get your nail
under the edge do you can peel off a strip?
And when you do peel it back you reach
for the scissors and the tape drops back
on to the F***ing spool? And then you finally
get to cut a strip but it folds back on itself?
And when you want to wrap a parcel you peel off
four or five strips and stick them to a table top
and one by one they curl under and stick
so you have to peel them off and they get all twisted
and stick to themselves? Modern life. What can you do?

John Murphy is a retired lecturer and musician. He has been published in many journals and magazines over the years and is the editor of the online magazine The Lake. He published a book in 2009, The Thing Is…


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