Archive for the ‘Layoffs’ Category


May 15, 2009

(First printed in Riding Home, Talon Books, 1985)

When layoffs are a rumour
half the people are terrified
they’ll lose their job;
the other half are terrified
they won’t.

They all go in the end:
the ones eager to go,
the back stabbers,
the good workers and the bad workers,
all poisoned by living with fear.

Even when you’re laid off together
you leave one by one
to whatever individual fate you can seek and find
out there.

Everyone feels they have failed;
feels they could have controlled their destiny;
feels the fate beyond their reach
could have been grasped
if they tried hard enough.

The days of hope and terror now ended
in a flood of tears,
some go berserk; some go catatonic,
living with the screaming fear of no pay cheque.
For the survivors,
there’s a certain breadth of vision:
horizons beckon through the mist
of tears.

October, 1987

Copyright 2009, Helen Potrebenko. For permissions please visit