This poem may tell you a story,
Or possibly it may not.
It all depends on your hearing
And whether you search for a plot.
We'll talk for a while of our Ernest
A small man from somewhere up north,
Who got a posh slot based in London
That paid him far more than his worth.
But his wage, not so bad for a bachelor,
For a family was not that terrific.
They had to live out in the boondocks -
In Berkshire, to be more specific.
His wife did not care to notice
That he spent half the day on the train.
'It's a slog,' he told her one evening
While thinking his dinner too plain.
Ernest's bosses made things that were costly,
So expected our man to devise
Many reasons for those with large incomes
To place orders of breathtaking size.
Ernest, still keen on his job,
Gave a talk to some overstuffed toffs.
'It's a cinch,' he said of his plan.
The chiefs giggled a bit, then walked off.
Ernest, ignored for a decade,
Went in for mild substance abuse.
'I've tried to concoct a religion
From a business that isn't much use.'
He attempted to make clever statements
That would send him high up in the ranks,
That would earn him the envy of colleagues
And gold credit cards from the banks.
The firm itself went a bit shaky.
Its markets got bored or forgot.
It planned Ernest's early retirement
On 10K or so - not a lot.
'I need a new life,' Ernest thought.
A daughter of somebody near
Took over the role of his wife
Though she cheated a few times a year.
Ernest stayed for awhile in the boondocks -
In Berkshire to be more exact.
His new wife would prod him, if weakly,
To put some more punch in his act.
He took some odd jobs, if part-time,
But his dwelling was soon repossessed.
His children flew off in directions,
Each to his own separate mess.
His new wife, the daughter once naughty,
Became middle-aged, and she wept
To think of her youth gone askew
For someone so clearly inept.
Ernest then read in the papers
That his old firm had finally gone bust.
'That's justice of sorts,' he supposed,
'That's two of us chewing the dust.'
Soon Ernest was old and retired
And he went to the doctor some days:
'The NHS can't yet afford it.
You'll only live long if you pay.'
So Ernest passed out of this world,
Took the trip of his dreams on the cheap.
His wives and his children all sighed
And sat through the funeral asleep.
There should be a plaque for such people
Who are willing to donate their Alls
To one dud concern or another
And to speed its eventual fall.
The plaque should say something simple
In letters decidedly small.
In fact, it should say next to nothing,
But just cover a hole in the wall.
(c) Daniel Trimmer 2013. Reproduced with permission.