Poems, Published Work

Living Alone: An Experiment

Lonely the loquacious rain; lonely spring
-loaded; lonely faking a yawn and curling

its arm around you. Lonely in the morning
trying to slip socks on toes with loose nails.

Slovenly the fridge-raider. Lonely over-
thinks it; only the pickpocket in

fingerless gloves, a lovely hand on your leg.
Lonely forgetting to call lonely back.

Lonely ticking friendship on dating sites
and meaning it; sorry assiduously

taking notes. Lonely at the party,
mind kept running outside, driver screaming

‘go!’; the front-page splash, mics pistoling you
on your doorstep, begging for a quote. Lonely

the cut-out sprung in a house of horrors
as a prank. Lonely banging its head

over and over into a mirror
in a last-ditch attempt to vanish.

Incidentally, you may want to check out this as well, where all the other Barbican Young Poets’ work was published 2013-14.


Bend Sinister

And that’s where I came in:
the initial switcharoo, transplanting
coal for teddy in the sleeping boy’s arms,
then a whole circus of tricks.
I had to learn quickly; how to diffuse
daddy in the phone with a click,
the daily pick-up, edicts to counter intuition
like ‘titles aren’t in blood but earned’
and all those doing words like ‘fathering’
that you don’t hear much – a frisbee’s
deft trick of itself. We’d got away
to Sutton-on-Sea, and here, disc in hand,
I transfigured; would whip the air
like cream, lay an eclipse
across the loungers. The kid
would lift the lid on my secrets,
but hock it, and it would skid off the axis,
capsize and freewheel to the sand.
I knew better, caressed it, knew its tilt
and loll, its reluctance to rush and slid it
lush onto a crest of air, traced
its lazing zip-line trajectory
until I got so good that I could ram it
chin up into the sun and have it
hurtle back to my open palm.
Once I had learned the reverse fling
I could dive, predict its physic, pluck it
ripe from its course with a snappy puppet hand
and loose it back before I hit the sand.
I returned to my brother
an Olympian, and taught him
all I knew about this counter-intuition
and the art of letting go.