In its Place

Would the person who borrowed my stapler
without permission please return it
immediately. I need it constantly

to hold my life in place. Drawing pins
are unsightly, and I have never been
an advocate of Sellotape.

These are the gates of hell and should
remain closed except when leaving
and entering. Bookings are to be

made in the Book, using the pencil
provided. DO NOT USE PEN. No
more than two apples per person.

Unused professionalism is to be returned
to the aquarium before midday. Likewise,
soap, cornflakes and solitude.

Sexual activity should be confined
to the south staircase, and it would
be appreciated if this could be kept

to a minimum. Smoking on Tuesdays.
Thought is not permitted
in any circumstances.

Torchlight processions, petty cash,
paperclips, reductio ad absurdum,
jealousy and guilt have been

specifically banned. Horse
racing is available on
personal application only, and

after the statutory public
enquiry. Unofficial notices
will be removed.

© Peter Howard

first published in Envoi 1996