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by Tom Jenks

I visited him in his Portakabin, the one with wind chimes outside. The birds on the roof were painted, apart from the ones that moved. He set me to work, organising the activity cupboard, making rubber band balls. The hum of the photocopier was alive with the joyful laughter of Buddha. Eventually, he let me light his cigarettes and visit the supermarket to buy family packs of tuna chunks and samosas from the reduced counter. He ate these impassively, peas and cubed potato in his beard. I was happier than I had ever been, knowing myself to be an instrument of the divine will. When he signed me off, he told me that I was his best pupil and that I should get into the business myself. That’s the beauty of an unregulated industry. Anyone can do it.

Tom Jenks has published 13 collections of poetry, the most recent being Crabtree: The Libretto (The Red Ceilings, 2017). Recent short prose has appeared in Ambit and Confingo Magazine. He co-organises The Other Room reading series in Manchester and edits zimZalla press.