confessions are self-serving

Tag: creative writing

OPDH #2 – Dancefloor Justin

As the years drain away from all of us, poems too pass into the past. Sometimes you just have to grab them by the scruff of the neck and drag them back into the limelight. Welcome to my weekly bit, ‘Old Poems Die Hard’ – reblogging a forgotten poem. ‘Dancefloor Justin’ was originally published 29/08/2014.

Dancefloor Justin

Dancefloor Justin learned to dance down a narrow ally,
he took professional dancing lessons by oil lamp
in a place where bins overflow and bastard cats wail.

I eyed up his moves with a Ceaser’s thumb
against the bar feeling wild
and high enough – tomato juice warm against the straw,
bruised purple in the bar’s mirror. O

Dancefloor Justin who was evicted by his black mistress,
Dancefloor Justin who was concerned with his eye wrinkles,
Dancefloor Justin who fell on deaf ears
and later,
the floor.


Regular John

Known not to rhyme every line but

when handling mandarins he damages egos

of show-boating masters toting

silk-cut toking cloaked loathsome


Some say the fruit is too fragile for the show to go

outside where fists meet bones and phones find homes, still

sucking on a beer left for lent

(three pounds and ninety-eight pence spent)

you can’t lose with quick food

said the fella he met at the urinal

like finding a suit on good friday for your own funeral

im poss ib le

He has to prove the drive-thru is not a challenge for a man

of his stature, don’t despair, remain austere, order:

one cheeseburger please no pickles patron…

All fed up now a silhouetted clown frowns and dances forwards

searching for a snooze partner fe or male

his sleeping bag tent wards genst sleet snow hail

eyes puffed up fluffy as a bunny tail –

one tear


down one cheek

do it all again next week.

Void [extract]

She felt like she was mourning over something, but she didn’t know what. She was gripped by a terrible nostalgia that refused to pass. What now huh? It’s so hard to face another day, so hard, and I can’t even get a good night’s sleep… And the tears they threatened, they welled, behind her now tightly shut eyes. She could see the darkening shades of brick – red – as the kitchen light hit her eye lids, she could feel her hands clasped in her lap, feel the material of her favourite dressing gown brushing against her lower thigh and as she tangibly registered her surroundings she, in growing exasperation, pursued and chased and grasped why – how – suddenly she was feeling like this.

There was a click, and the kettle was boiled for a second time. She opened her eyes, dabbing the wetness with the sleeve of her gown, and poured the water into the waiting cup. I’ve still got Amber, she’s a good kid. Her other children, grown now, had moved out. And the house had quietened, the dinner table had shrunk to three, and where there was once noise, and laughter, and mess, there was now something of a void.

In England

Whisky wheeze in England

Sniffly nose and blackbags in England

Twinkled rummy eyes in England

Chainsaws carve up sad trees in England

No room on the roads in England

Pints held by hands with faded blue stretched tattoos in England

European women with wide grins and branch legs on the tube smiling in England

Aloof girls under stained arched grand station roofs in England

Pension collector weather mention-er and queue dodger in England

Still raining in England


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I’ll keep this sweet
Because I’m sick of it myself,
Of grabbing hands out asking
And dithering musing public oozing
Fragile self-constructed images
The world’s been knocked out of kilter
Seen in sepia through a digital filter
Competing for no prize
Fighting for no cause
We only stand
In order to brag
To those still on their knees.

Wharf Meat

High tide lapped six inches shy of the short pier that often docked boats (fishermen’s barnacled boats bringing mussels and crayfish and other wares, where fishermen whistled in white Wellington boots crispy with salt, with thick fingers that wrestled with thicker rope) when we noticed it. There hung a crowd of gulls, a screeching shitting flock of them, near the end of the pier. Hung from a weathered wooden post was the thrashing object of all concern. A gull was truss to the post by means of a fishing wire that entered in his beak and exited nowhere. A lure in the gullet and blood on the beak.

“E-easy buddy”. I tried to cut the line with my car key, but the blunt shined gunmetal rubbed helplessly against the wire. His glass gull eye reproached me. He thrashed again. I held my left hand on his back for support, and found his pelt unexpectedly soft, like a kind word from a stranger. “Naw it’s not going to cut it.” Mike made his way over with a fish knife. “He’s going to drop”. “Yep”. And he did. Into the grey green blue sea, taken by the current, drifting under the pier. He was on his back, his wings partially spread, the tips submerged to take a grey green tinge. His glass gull eyes looked upwards, helpless heartbreak eyes that shuddered right into you. I bent and lifted him gently from the water like an avian Moses from the reeds. I lay him in the recovery position as he gagged and balled like a common drunk. That’s where we left him. With his wet glass gull eyes inquisitive, and his retching swallowing soft downy useless throat skyward, as if in prayer. I pulled once more on the line that dribbled from his beak, which snagged and became taut. A hook hooked in a soft gull gut (a prize catch). A slow agonizing death for a sad, soft feathered friend.

Later, impromptu, I kill three ants as I lie on my back, thinking. A forth ant becomes panicked, and darts to-and-fro in a feverish search for his mates, causing me to swell unhesitatingly with remorse. The sound of birdcall intermittently floats through the open window of the cabin, like a baseless, nasty rumour.


I indicated left, and pulled over. The van came to a rumbling halt on the gravel side-road. When I killed the ignition I could hear the soft bubbling of boiling rusted water in the tank. Habitually I pulled the lever that opens the bonnet. On stepping out I saw a broad scope of green cloven mountains to my right. The sun was setting, blushing the partially clouded sky a deep roseate. The mountains regarded me pensively; I sighed and looked down at the sad wreck of engine. The water tank was fogged, steaming and spluttering her familiar siren’s call. I waited. When the tank quietened, I felt the lid cautiously.

Next thing I know I’m hollering on the way to the floor. My glasses had abandoned me, my knees were blooded and grazed, my hands numb. I’m in the road. I’m covered in boiling water. My face is covered in boiling water. I grope around, blindly, staggering about in the gravel. I felt my face, it felt numb, prosthetic, alien.

I was covered in a base brick silt. I put my head on the wheel and breathed quietly as darkness, in his true tomb gloom, sheepishly intruded on the scene. I took water to the engine and refilled the tank. As I did so I steadied a sober gaze on the paling dusk. The moon talked gloatingly of my misfortune to the possums who grinned – in pairs and groups of three – revealing gristle grey teeth yellowed with hot yolk.

Garage Man

Known by many as the Jack-of-Bandits

with black hands like earthenware platters

“In a jiffy” he’ll have it done, for half the price

and thrice as nice – posthaste – pronto – presto

Bank, leather strap pop, rustle, coin clatter,


Little Birds

“The owner wants us to destroy them, so smash them on the ground.”

Jannis is holding one of three tiny blue speckled eggs.

Not on the car”

We don’t know from which bird these eggs were birthed. The nest is structurally sound, compact – made of dried grape vines.

“Do you think we can eat them?” Jannis asks.

“Just throw them on the ground man”.

Jannis lifts the sad droplet into the air – neck height. We are in between two rows of vines, early morning. The dew is still thick and the air still thin, cold. Jannis holds the egg between thumb and forefinger, looking grave, as if asked to perform an unction. Perched in Jannis’s slender fingers the egg seems almost incandesc-


A translucent laze of yolk and blood has appeared on the floor. I glance up. Jannis is mute, astute. He holds my gaze; he holds a second egg…

Later we find a nestless chick resting in the shade of a post. It hops away weighted by its inordinate and useless wings, unable to fly. We make estimations on how long it will last. I make my way slowly down a row of vines, lifting wires. On the ground is the decapitated corpse of a barn swallow.

Elsewhere screens suck on dull sallow faces, and torpid women wait bloated in Burger King. There’s no room in this town for little birds.