confessions are self-serving

Category: Poetry

Sent my love downstairs

On my back
Studying the ceiling cracks
In a student’s house.

Sent my love downstairs
To fetch roasting carrots
Spitting orange,  honey smothered
Soft, black crisp outside
Brown toast, butter melt ooze.

Where is she?
I shouldn’t be left alone in this head,
On this night,
In a room so hot
With dishes piled so high.


My ears are cupped in headphones, hood up,
the radio’s drowned
in the river of mid-morning cabs, buses, and rain.

Down it comes in droves
onto my jeans, wet through,
I only catch a word or two
over the wind:
Diabetes, Lucozade, Sugar, Stew.

Coming to my own conclusions
sloshing alongside Chinese Kitchen,
muddy yellow dragon,
no lights, no sweet or sour scent,
sign on the door reads

Spring poem

I’m outside,
on the corner slate flower bed purple as burst plum,
conjures mother, lent, exhausted
on the speckled countertop, jousting with a can of prunes
juice drip teasing out a crack in the tin.
Pregnant and constipated,
little Isobel on her way, labrador alive!
Huge moaning skull, soppy silk ears, sad brown eyes,
busted arthritic limp, stomach rolling like a black sea.

My forearm’s over my eyes, sun sharp and new.
First English spring, no Welsh, British, who cares?
Many do, the lines in the sand
seem deeper year on year,
like slits carved in supple upper arms,
out of sight and out of mind.


Fish & Chips

Rambling mad under the threat of spring rain
Dirty old field, ploughed, pulling up last year’s dirty jobs
City slush grey sky, and the skylark sings
Fevered, flapping upwards full of guts
Bold backbone and hardy in the gusts
Air cool and eyes tight, cheeks pinched
We gotta go
Jolly Roger, sign clanging, cod bites ‘famous’,
Kid in there, eye glasses, eight or nine or years old
Mother fixes his collar, and here the chips
Fresh from the smooth amber glow of boiling beef fat
And salt shaking escaping down newspaper folds
Dad lifting potato with finger and thumb pinch and suck hot
Squeezing vinegar in there, down brown cone swamp
Tart first chip smoking open mouth tongue dance
Steam to the street stagger homeward bound.


You’re on the edge of my bed,
I can’t describe it,
you’re balled up and tomato pink,
my baby
my butterball, crying.

Am I autistic or just obtuse?

Probably a foul cocktail of both,
probably from all the red wine I drunk,
probably from the way I smile so smug,
you hung on my arm like I deserve you.

I’ll take advantage of your sweet neurosis,
I’ll let you bet against my house,
benefit of years and confidence
in all the beers I drunk.

God I’m proud, and oh so cynical,

typical of single males in their mid-twenties
secretly all so desperate, aching
for warmth like yours,
under the covers, something platonic,
nothing sexual,
just something to take us
out this tasteless plastic world
and place us some place

I can’t figure it out

The relationship between this desk,
these keys, that glass bottle there,
touchable things, reassuring
in the way they push against you,
push back, like a man snapping his fingers
in front of your eyes
after being knocked down, cold
the place we actually occupy,
operate our clunky, fleshy puppets.

Some of us are better at it than others,
almost graceful in the handling of their bodies,
I find it hard enough to drag my feet like iron chains
over splits in the roadside without stumbling,
or to lift my chin. I’ve been told
that I look like a man at sea
afloat, at peace
with his watery fate
the way my head hangs and swings
like a donkey’s tail.

The material world
pushes against me
with the biting persistence
of a whining child
but I’m too far away,
deep and safe
in that other place.


Reminded of steaming windows
one inch rolled out, battery roulette,
and music, always music
that reminded us of places
where we weren’t
and couldn’t be.

How different things are now
looking back.
My Dad asks why I don’t write poems anymore
and to that I say
I no longer have anything to fear.

Last night half way down a paragraph
where I read eagerly of Louisiana sun and tumbleweed,
Houston, Texas, eggnog and peach ice cream,
I remembered
a night not six months ago
where I alone drove my wagon purring
down South Beach Fremantle,
looking for two friends from France,
two buoys in a dark, dark sea.

And I heard only the lapping of summer surf
as a man grasped at my door handle,
as I froze
and waited
and waited.
Someone yelled out
and he turned
head shaved, white, at six feet
tall, drunk and dangerous;
he pounded on my window
like a baboon;
I was ill equipped,
I prayed it did not break. No, I did not pray,
but I willed it so.

It’s different when you’re safe
and stuffed with whiskey and kindness.
You forget your rough edges
but you keep your quietness.


Wouldn’t it be fine
to slide down the side of your sofa cushion
in complete and utter silence,
to get smaller and smaller
until your bellyful
of warm beer is no more
than a thimbleful of froth
and times remembered,
to quietly catch your last glance of disapproval,
to rearrange your teeth for a final time
into that apologetic awkward smile,
to slip away with such peaceful ease.

You wonder why you fought
for so long and so hard
to remain seated,
gripping the sofa’s arm
as a grief-mad mother
might grip her doll-limp daughter,
as if this time will and warmth alone
might just be enough.

Restless Legs

Most of us are awake
in air that drills hot lightning blue
idiot truths
all the way to the core.

I feel sorry for us, for the flesh anyhow,
imagine how the mind must try to make sense of it;
over a million years of natural problems
with natural solutions
and now this,

Outside quiet seeps soundless
inside my blanket and nestles there
like an animal from some wood
as I toss and turn
and my legs twitch
like crickets for want of action.

Sketch of Lovers

The pram gets pushed
with one hand,
the hand lifts off the bar
and the middle finger curls out
like larva; muted, earless,
yet risen to the sound
of a horn wailing.

She didn’t see him;
Asshole better watchwherehe’sgoin.

1 new message: Mike
babe I want u now.

Flash of once-white teeth,
small, rodent-like.
Her ass is still good
in these leggings,
the cheeks pump like plum flesh,
good and sweet
up the street.

The pram makes a noise of want,
Shh baybay, she addresses
her palm.

Send message Mike: emoji.
The template suggests she’s playful
and ready.

Mike’s wits are blunteran
a drawer full of dull blades.
He drinks up his pay day
and chokes smoke down to the butt
and feels good to rave
at the way that politicians act smug.
Mike reads a paper
written by Masters of Journalism;
they adhere to House Style
but he knows that they get him.
They know he likes tits
and they know he hates change
and they know he ain’t scared
but full of unexplained rage.

1 new message: Lucy.

The emoji she sent excites his blood
in a dim and honest way.
Mike jingles shrapnel
in his pocket and moves towards the toilets
smiling, smiling.