The Interview

That time we talked about time, blind to how we tick 
And I pretended to be real 
I saw paint peeling over your shoulder 
The sun striped your lapels 
I was lost in translation   
While your fingers tapped a mute tattoo 
It’s true I was floored by a morse code inquiry  
Could you feel the room breathing slow, 
or hear the sound of blood flow? 
You caught me comparing wrists 
I saw a shadow split your collarbone and the silver chain it stole 
While we traded words in search of something 
I tallied the bricks in the wall, outside 
all the buildings that you built  
I’m condemned to memorise 
Intonation arrests my mind 
Do you know your accent chimes like  
carved staccato honeycomb? 
My eyes are on license to glimpse but not adore 
Meaning dies beneath the footfall in the corridor  
I’m in the margins you annotate 
my mind on a sliding scale  
where it fails 
I haemorrhage the bits your monologue omits  
Trawling austerities in my sandpaper archive  
A hole-punched history repeating ’til I slump  
Rolodexed to destruction   


Lifeguards swim: I’m sinking
Your blue skies have clouded my thinking
Arcane jokes knot my mind like rope
Skylarks worry my bones to smoke

Who assigned the symptoms?
Who defines disorder?
Who drew lines in illegitimate sand?
Power lies with amateurs
Your gang’s gung-ho with parameters
And protocols I don’t understand

See: your reason to be nullifies me
Your complex simplifies me
Your code encrypts my natural ways
Your reign has derailed my parade

Now I’m a rolling burnout haunting
Life’s fog-bound conurbations
On the outskirts of your neglect
I lie to survive it
Wear a mask while imbibing
The dregs of your etiquette

Ratified by sham emotion
Atomised by your ABCs
I’m a late descendant of the feeble-minded
And Trevelyan’s idiocy

My Otis Redding Period

Here comes the tide again, telling me time is water. Obedient and keen to do that old moon’s dirty work. I knew it would be back. I knew I would be also. I always condemn what I can’t understand. This reverence for gravity when it’s got so much to answer for offends me when it makes my bones so heavy I can’t fly. Instead my feet are pinned to harbour stones beneath me that are slick with scales and seaweed – they’ll outlast you and me. 

So I stand here every day like a sentinel on duty surveying the horizon for the last ship launched in hope. But something about this telescope tells me it’s not fit for purpose because everything I find good in life seems so far away. I tip my battered hat and bow to all the great explorers who’ve exhausted every single map that’s ever been unfurled. If this spinning silver compass could determine my direction then maybe one day I might find a new magnetic north. 

How far have I roamed to find the face of morning sunshine, only to be pelted with fish heads dropped by gulls? It’s like realising that your fire escape’s on fire, while seeing all around you so much water you can’t use. But I’ll be back tomorrow at the whim of this condition, yielding to the ebb before abiding by the flow. The waves will come to taunt me with their will and sense of purpose while other empty vessels sink in oceans of their own. 

Second Draft

I ripped up my portfolio in a fit of self-disgust
I did it, I had to, its pages made me sick
It was a reckless, desperate deed
There were blood stains on the spine
And though I fainted when the stitching split, at last I was unbound
My skin was left in ribbons with paper cuts from the past
I found staples slowly rusting in my heart and in my lungs
When I discovered the dust of that life beneath my nails I made a firm commitment to clip them keen and short
Disconcerted friends pledged to send me tape and glue, an alibi to hide behind, or some good, heart-warming food
But the old me was mere confetti now and I fed fistfuls to the wind
I watched it fly then went inside
Set to begin again

We Are Building A Future

We are renovating the house when she asks me if I can hear what she’s saying
I lay down my tools and explain the theory of acoustics to her
She wonders if I appreciate the importance of strong foundations
I go on about concrete footings and load-bearing, my replies evaporating in the large, dusty space between us
There is so much building work to be done, and so much dead air to fill, but we are mere apprentices
So we carry on, admiring each other’s workmanship in silence