For E. B.

Posted: August 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

How can I coax you
to push past, on, through
the barriers and barbed wire
if I’m not prepared to
do the same?
So I deliberately chose a table
at the back of the room
and waited tensely
for my name.

Journey to the centre of myself
is a stumbling squeeze,
chair obstacle course,
all eyes on my clumsiness.
And I survived.
Next time this happens
accidentally, I’ll know it
will be alright.

So keep pushing yourself.

I am the audience, eager
to applaud your progress.

Lunchtime

Posted: August 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

turtle lunchbox

Divorce resulted
in free school dinners.
It was that or
jar-paste Ryvitas,
the cling-film soaked
in No Frills Ribena,
thanks to a leaky flask.
Dinner ladies praised us
for eating our crusts.
Ryvitas don’t have crusts,
but it was too awkward
at six years old
to explain I was too fat
to deserve bread.

Interloper

Posted: August 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

audience

The shuffling embarrassment
of a group caught,
by strangers,
appreciating poetry.
Like your mum barging
into the bathroom
during puberty,
you try to pretend
it isn’t happening.
Taking pleasure in words,
getting off on rhythm.

The Clock Struck Six

Posted: August 21, 2015 in Poetry

I

Tom risked his eyes.
My city is symbolised
by patriarchy at work,
and society still
adjusts its blinkers
in the presence of pervs.

II

The clock bonged
for attention
and little children,
accompanied by their
tourist parents,
stood and stared
upwards at the atrocity
that is our cultural
attraction. It needs a
paint job
, remarked one
local. It needs tearing
down, you mean
, said
another with a grin.
Everyone else
held camera phones
at arms-length
and filmed
in awed silence.

III

It makes me cringe,
a little, and muse:
this mental state
could be excused
(maybe)
when raised
in a city whose
economy is based
on the numbers
who choose
to gaze
at horse-riding
nudes.

This is Me Reaching Out to You

Posted: August 17, 2015 in Spoken Word


Spoiler Alert: at some point, every person in this room is going to die,
Which is why all that we do is a desperate search for something that might survive
Longer than it takes the acid rain to erase our names from our gravestones.
I’m pretty sure every human being just wants a sign that they’re not alone
But nobody wants to make the first move – we’re all lined up against the wall;
That first step takes too much courage, out of the plane into a free-fall.

So, instead, we choose to be the monsters under our own beds.
Fear is the enemy and it lives in our heads
Where we store up all the negative things anyone’s ever said.
We don’t fill our cupboards with bullshit – we throw the bad stuff away
So why do we allow so much of our collective potential to decay?
I guess public humiliation is the weak link in the chain:
The risk of vulnerability makes us all too afraid.

See, we’ve got a lot in common. Plus, we’re all naked under our clothes
Yet, like deluded emperors, refuse to admit we’re exposed;
Faking tough armour – from our padlocked minds down to our toes,
Like we’re surrounded by the enemy every time we walk down the street.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, that’s what I’m trying to preach.
Darwin was right about a lot, but I don’t think we always have to compete.

If there’s an alien invasion the whole world will be on the same team
So why, almost every occasion, do we act like shark versus meat,
Tearing each other apart every time somebody lost at sea dares to spill their guts
And then wondering why this place is so full of dishonesty and mistrust?
If you’ve ever read the comments on YouTube then this won’t be news:
Humans can’t form a truce – we can love the same thing and still prefer snarling abuse.
If we can’t even reach out to people on the same planet, no wonder we look confused
When they tell us the sky is the limit, but to reach for the moon.

The other day I was sitting in a doctors’ waiting room
And I could feel my trousers slowly falling down to show off my pants.
And what I should have done is just get up, adjust the waistband,
Because it’s an issue that every person with a bum can understand
And relate to, but I was afraid to – stupid but true.
It’s like how some people can’t use public loos, they’re ashamed of their wees and poo
Even though that’s exactly what those porcelain receptacles were designed for us to do.

We freeze up at the thought of being judged, of standing out.
I mean, we’ve all seen Attenborough’s lions take down a stray gazelle.
Doesn’t always pay to get noticed, it can leave negative figures in your account,
And that’s why I let my jeans pretty much fall down.

But what if, instead of the jeans, it was a human being who lost their grip?
Forgetting the rules, letting their cloak of invincibility slip,
And I could see inside that they were fighting, biting one trembling lip,
But the tear ducts were brimming over, about to burst in public.

Suddenly the social boundaries are no longer barricades to keep us safe,
They tower over us like fences that only serve to segregate
Because there’s a tissue in my pocket and kindness swirling through my veins,
And there’s a chance the two combined could soak up some of that person’s pains.
Both are up for grabs, for free – no strings, no disclaimer in small-print,
But you might as well demand diamonds of a man who’s clearly skint.

Because the gap between their chair and mine might only be an inch
But when we make a habit of keeping distant, gaps are difficult to bridge.
Spontaneous gestures died some way back, left for dead upon the road
So now humanity reaps this harvest of the apathy we’ve sown.

And that’s a couplet I could finish on, but it doesn’t offer any hope.
We can give our species a bad name and hang it, or we can use the rope
That formed the noose, and morph it: into a lifeline in the shape of a lasso,
Wrangle with the herds until we break each pointless and damaging taboo –
Throw them off one by one like the strangest game of Buckaroo.

This war on personal terror is one we’ll be fighting until The End,
So I’ve lain down my shields and swapped sword for the mighty pen
Because (spoiler alert), one day in my future I’ll be dead
And I want a better last moment than a long list of regret,
Some litany of missed opportunities that I’d rather forget.
If I’d been too chicken to read this poem, I’d have sat there, marinating in self-hate.
We get a limited number of shots at our goals…and then suddenly it’s too late.

The only person whose opinion of your life matters is yourself
So don’t fade away wishing you’d had the courage to reach out.

First Impressions

Posted: August 13, 2015 in Poetry

He was like, I’m only into Manga and all that malarkey
I was like, oh man, fuck saké
Oops, I mean for fuck sake
Like what you like, there’s no need to be fake
To pigeonhole yourself is an ostentatious piss-take.

Late

Posted: August 11, 2015 in Poetry

It only took twenty seconds

for the rainbow to die;

I ran to get my camera

but returned in time

to witness its trailing departure

fade out of existence.

No, I didn’t cry.

Consider this an elegy.