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Poem: Is the worst behind us?

UNIVERSITY POST POETRY - PhD student at the University of Copenhagen reflects poignantly: My friend and colleague has been fired

I head home with a heavy heart
Think: ’Is the worst behind us?’
My friend and colleague has been fired.
Where do we now find us?
We did our PhD’s together
Now many years ago,
Some years of heavy weather
Until we made tenure.
Gone were the old rough days
Now we were ’permanent’,
Provided our own office space
Under the firmament.
Students came and students went
But we went on forever,
Applying for more to spend
On research projects clever
And necessary for society
That’s what they have us for,
Or so we thought in piety
Till knocks came on the door.
This morning they took her away
And the corridor stood still,
Just another working day
But no energy or goodwill.
There will soon be no coffee too
Or so I’ve heard them say
And we bid fond farewell to
One Danish fruit a day.
In finding ways to gently cope
With life’s latest harsh blow
I briefly did give up on hope
And stooped to a new low:
I binge-watched these firing scenes
From ten films with the theme
Then scrolled through endless reams
Of similarly terrible memes
Then I took a deep long breath
Tried taking a fresh look:
It’s probably better than death
Or reading a self-help book.
Some say it’s an opportunity
To be laid-off mid-career,
They use political impunity
To allay hard workers’ fears.
We barely stopped expending
The funds we were told to spend
And now our backs are bending
As the cuts on us descend.
But we quietly soldier on
As we have done before,
Weep for those so freshly gone
And think of it no more.
For there is still work to be done
Less grants, more competition,
To ask for whose sins we atone
Is a fruitless petition.
The present shapes what is to come
And to save is to invest,
And while I will miss my old chum
This is no time to rest.

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