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He Stacks the Chairs by Mike Hickman

After the show, Tom stacks the chairs.

They’re iconic, he might say,

To the no-one who has stayed behind,

Because the cast are out front in the foyer,

Chuntering with their family and friends.

A design classic from 1963, he’d say,

If there was chance for him to say anything,

In amongst the backslapping and the jokes

About everything that went right; everything that went wrong.

Injection moulded in polypropylene for ease of use,

He could tell them,

From his classroom experience,

And from the many shows like this he has done before.

They stack beautifully on the trolley,

10 at a time, meaning that clearing the hall,

Even of 100 chairs,

Even on his own like this,

Takes less time than it would with your old-fashioned chair.

Which might be interesting, he’d think,

To the casual observer,

If anyone thought to observe.

If anyone thought to notice anything at all.

After the show, Tom stacks the chairs.

And they’ll find him later,

When he’s missed,

Standing by the stage, sweat-stained but

Still in shirt and tie.

“Anything left to do?” they’ll ask him,

Perhaps noticing the empty hall,

And the lack of crisp packets,

And the shine of the swept floor.

But most likely not seeing anything.

Not even him.

And he’ll say, “No, it’s fine,”

Like he does every time.

Because he stacks the chairs

And, for Tom, of all the efforts they fail to notice,

It’s this one that gives him enough strength

To put himself through directing another show.


Mike Hickman (@MikeHicWriter) is a writer from York, England. He has written for Off the Rock Productions (stage and audio), including 2018's "Not So Funny Now" about Groucho Marx and Erin Fleming. Poetry and prose has been published in EllipsisZine, Dwelling Literary, Bandit Fiction, Nymphs, Flash Fiction Magazine, Brown Bag, and the Daily Drunk (amongst others!).

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