blackmail press 31  Marginalization
Margaret Owen Ruckert

Marginalization - Pauline Canlas Wu
Margaret Owen Ruckert, educator and poet, is a previous winner of the National Poetry Competition of the Society of Women Writers, NSW. She is facilitator of the Hurstville Discovery Writers Group. Published in major journals and anthologies, she explores sweet foods in You Deserve Dessert, available at

survives off a super-small super, “lives it up”, he wheezes,
yellow teeth hit me in the face, he slaps down some documents
“I’ve got nothing to worry about,” got the Government on his side
they underpin his annexe with a sturdy pension
send him paperwork, now taking over my desk, my brain
hasn’t been trained for this multi-level bureaucracy
he rolls up the sleeves on his red-checked overjacket
bet he sings in each new moon and turns off his lights with full ones
“geez it’s hot in here”, he places a cap that could do with a year
in a bleach bucket, right under my tax nose
I’m not trained for so many supers, ETP’s and false leads
I conduct major surgery on the spread of his medical bills
calculating, he’s lucky to be alive to pay this year’s tax
but I say nothing, people are as sensitive about their health
as they are about their tax, which explains the pastry-faced
clerks, like me, who calmly confront you over a desk
we look forward to morning tea; the rest of the day is a write-off
we want to be all humanity and yes we’ll help you
get every deduction you’re entitled to and more
and laugh inside that’s the only basis of our business
we share out stories, the zero’s we’ve seen
but the serious side of money is the client’s right
and that’s no laughing material for a tax return-to-basics
he’s real happy-like about the offsets, reductions
exemptions, rebates and deductions
it’s just he still has to pay tax
he fists my desk, embraces his litter
“I’ve given ‘em all the best dough of m’ life”
he thunders, me three deep in screens.
“I could have saved something, you know,
if it wasn’t for tax.”