Sunday, 7 August 2011

Nothing Poetic

I was lodging
at a quite nice house
tea time
hand out the oven
into the mouth
total disaster

I was only checking
the fuckers were done

Lip pounding
blistered left side
of the top section
culprit, a demon hot chip

We were having
ham egg chips
the burning
turned me off my supper
my upper lip zone all
inflamed & angry
fucked me right off

& madness then prevailed

‘Why just me?’
blistered upper lip then part-whistled
‘why not him below too?’

‘Simon Weston would not
be impressed upper lip’
crunched 2 rows of united teeth
‘you’re a disgrace to this face.’

This exchange between teeth & upper lip
gave me a headache
made me think I really was mad
but also made me think about
how I was at least lodging
at a quite nice house

alcoholic money-taker
bitter old man from Sheffield
said he served on
HMS Sheffield
& was on that ship
when it got hit
but survived
(only in body
not mind)

He was in need of
company & money
I gave him both
of them needs &
I felt it polite
as I handed him
the plate not to mention
past and present fate

About my swollen lip
my burn

& also how I once
had my head caved in
both lips burst open
teeth cracked
one time in his hometown

Outside Hillsborough
on a cold wet Wednesday
(there was nothing poetic
in this: a truly shit night)

‘We’ve all suffered’
he then said
while chewing open-mouthed
on ham

I was startled
but then noticed he was
watching the news
about some massacre
in Amsterdam

‘Don’t think I’ll go
there then,’
I said to Ken (his name)
‘might try Madrid
as an alternative.’

‘Decent place, Ted’
Ken eventually said
before adding quick
‘what the fuck’s up
with your lip?’

Nervously I bit
on the good side
of my lower lip
& then blew determinedly
on a chunky chip
a long time seemed
to keep us both hostage
the tension rising
so regular this pressure
but no rhyme this time
a nightly occurrence
his northern abhorrence
of my lack of appreciation
of wars fought
his Falklands stretch
& the other night
me in the grip of his
stinky armpit headlock
for hours on end
no laughs; he wont even
use Old Spice
now Henry Cooper’s dead

An extract from 'Nothing Poetic', a forthcoming collection of new poems and short fiction.

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