Late Shift


I like the Late Shift,

the long, lonely hours,

the silence, the darkness

spreading over the sleeping city,

broken in patches by the

the pools of orange light

spilt beneath the street lamps.

I like to listen for

the familiar rattle of the chainlink fence,

the click of the padlock across the road

as the security guard working his rounds

checks a gate and waves to me.

I wave back he gets in his car and drives off,

three years and we have never spoken, still

the secret Fellowship of the Late Shift

unites us. A patrol car prowls past

ignoring me as I open a fire escape door,

in my worker’s uniform

I’m just part of the landscape.


Yes when you work with the Midnight Crew,

a strange bond is shared

by the band of professional insomniacs

who keep the city running at night,

like some shadowy secret society

the day crowd hears rumours of/

the Indian guy behind the counter at the seven eleven

smiles when I walk in for my usual 2am coffee

we chat, ask after each other’s family,

the Taxi Drivers on their folding armchairs

outside the all night petrol station nod at me/

Doctor and nurse conferring in hospital corridor

As I drive from job to job

in the space and loneliness of the long night

the fellowship of the late shift expands

in the vacuum/ takes in Nurses

and Ambulance Drivers/sullen Waitresses in all night Diners/

Road-Workers furiously excavating

beneath flashing yellow lights,

as the blue strobe of the Ambulance

wails past in counterpoint/ Cleaners mopping/

the Night Clerks nodding over their desks,

television voices muttering softly in the background/

somewhere now the Bakers arise like yeast

to warm their ovens and knead the dough/


The Prostitutes yawn

and file their nails waiting for the dawn,

whilst their Dealers surf the channels

awaiting their end-of-shift call/

meanwhile the Water Police fish

another body out of the river

and somewhere a lone Technician

flicks a switch.


I drive from job to job

thru vast industrial estates.

Far away in the distance

beneath enormous hangars of concrete and steel

tiny workers like aliens dressed in orange jumpsuits

and breathing apparatus

work in clusters of frantic activity

operating incomprehensible machines

for mysterious Combines

with unknown goals,

who hide their true Identity behind

bland, anonymous acronymns.

In daylight the answer is probably

depressingly prosaic but by the moonlight

Mystery adheres to the most concrete realities.


At the Service Station on my way home

the concrete has been washed clean

by a passing shower, the Sky

is shifting thru soft shades of grey and pink,

the day birds are waking up

and starting to sing & crarrk,

and the whole world is reborn anew once more,

while gentle waves of exhaustion

are lapping at my mental shore.

“How was your night?” the Attendant

and I ask each other, like two Survivors

sharing stories no-one else could understand

unless they’d been there.

And as I drive home everyone-else

is heading the other way.





reverend profile red

The Reverend Hellfire is a practised Performance Poet,

President of the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity Inc.,

a proud blue-collar worker,

and an ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanism

AND the Church of the Universe.

A solitary, nocturnal species that forages over a wide range.



~ by reverendhellfire on December 11, 2016.

2 Responses to “LATE SHIFT”

  1. Love this one, Rev. All the steel and concrete and nighttime lights make me think of J.G Ballard, but with soul. You show a lot of affection for unconventional things mate, and that’s cool šŸ™‚

    • J.G.Ballard with soul?! High praise indeed!
      Also, you have indeed identified a Prime Directive; to seek out the unconventional, the odd, the quirky, the forgotten, the mavericks, the refuseniks and the misfits and give their wisdom/ madness voice.
      These are my people, this is my place.

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