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Maslow's Pyramid

by richard devereux

Now you’ve retired, they ask,

how will you fill your time?

It’s as if they know a sink-hole

will appear overnight in the back garden

and, alongside it, a huge mound of sand

with a wooden handle

(presumably a spade)

sticking out at a jaunty angle.

They want to know will I stand and stare

into the newly-formed abyss

or will I start shovelling hard

in the hope (of course, forlorn)

I can fill the looming void of time.

There are variants on the question:

some ask Will you travel?

or Will you take up a new hobby?

Displacement activities, nothing more,

for staring or shovelling into the abyss:

the hole is still there

when you return from your trip

or as you pedal the lathe, wood-turning.

I have a stock answer

that suggests travel, a new interest

and a degree of activity

way beyond the shovelling of sand.

I am going to climb Maslow’s Pyramid I say.

Sometimes they ask Where’s that?

The western fringe of the Sumerian Desert

I assert and then wax lyrical

about the dangers of the ascent,

the need for oxygen

and the mysteries of self-actualisation.


Devereux is a poet based in Bristol. His poems have been published in a number of magazines and anthologies, including One Hand Clapping, Drawn to the Light and Raceme. His great inspiration is Greece – its beauty, its history, its people.


Image by Bree Anne
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