The Death of Derek the Desk Tidier

Derek liked a tidy desk.
He saw no use for mess.
Mess gave him stress.

His workspace was
An inside-out briefcase,
An empty place, devoid
Of paper accumulations
And carelessly flicked
Nasal evacuations.

All Monday to Friday he
Primed and polished,
Only pausing to admonish
Miscreant colleagues, astonished
At his passion for sheen
And urgent need to clean
And be clean.

‘Why won't you tidy?’ he whined,
As they glimpsed suspiciously
At the office-cleaning-maniac,
Hovering above his worktop
With a mini-desk-o-vac.

Derek never wondered,
Whether the others
Were wise to be wary
Of desktop planning; he
Did not see the pitfalls
In his unconsidered love
For spick and spanning.
And so he was damned.

For when nuclear war began
His untidy colleagues gazed
Joyfully at the deadly radiation
Reflected harmlessly from
The whiteness of their
Litter strewn workstations.

Poor Derek fried.
And died;
And, to his surprise,
Was sent to hell because
God's desk is messy.











Derek, in a hard hat, hovers above his worktop with a mini-desk-o-vac
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Poem Study Notes:


Written in 2002, one of the original poems actually written in the office, during working hours, for inclusion in the weekly office status report.

I think most people lost patience trying to make any sense of this one, probably as the themes are all a bit mixed up (it's a kind of cautionary tale, warning against spending too much time thinking about trivialities, but with a splash of surrealism and just general silliness).

However, the poet recalls that his boss at the time enjoyed the concept of the mini-desk-o-vac.

A few years after writing this poem, as if by magic, the poet met a man in the office, who looked exactly like Derek in the picture (although he wasn't wearing a hard-hat) and talked about the need to have tidy desks in exactly the same way. Is it possible that in this case life imitated art? Did that man even exist before this poem was written?