Breaks

Life, is it over yet? 20 minutes into coffee and she looking at me like she’s wants to fuck or fight. I can’t tell which. I haven’t been able to in a while. And this might be why she hates me. One of many reasons, I suppose.

My book is closed and laid out in front of me on the table. I glance down at it every few minutes to check it’s still there. I would have hoped to had finished it during this lunch break if she hadn’t spotted me. Four hundred and twenty three pages down and I’m itching to read more. I hate finishing on an odd page number. I sat in the corner with my large latte trying to avoid the company of another person.

So here she is. Her hair scrunched up into a dirty blonde fist, mouth pinched and eyes cold grey. Should I just leave? I mean that’s what I usually do, right? Withdraw in cowardice. 

“I don’t hate you, James.” Oh, well that’s a relief. 

“You don’t?” I look down. The book is still there. Thank god. 

“No, but I still don’t think we should be together.” She gives me a half-smile. She’s relieved to no longer be a part of my life anymore. “I mean, you don’t seem to know what I want anymore.”

I nod in agreement. It disguises another glance at my book. 

“Or listen.” Her words were familiar. As though I have heard them before.  

I twist my mouth and nod in a way that makes it look like I’m listening.

“You never gave me the time.” She looks exhausted with me. Am I really this draining? I’m not perfect, but I’m no 9-5 shift either. 

“It’s 1.23pm.” I say. 

“That’s not what I meant.” Another sigh. I mean, of course I’m not making this easy, but Christ, just get it over with. This is clearly hard work for you. “So what do you think?” 

“I suppose it’s probably for the best.” Break ups make me talk in cliches. “Maybe you deserve someone better than me.”

“Maybe.” She stands up, straightens her skirt and leaves. Actually, just before leaving she did ask if my book was worth the read as she was looking something “new to get her teeth into”. I lied and said no.

And she is gone. I sit alone shaking my head to myself. Coffee must be ice-cold by now. Waste of money. A waitress appears at the table and I order another. 25 minutes of my lunch break left. The book opens and suddenly I’m over it. Completely over it. It was only a  £2.50 latte. Over it. 

Lost

And this is how you fuck up

And lose the ones you love

Because you let her down

And didn’t give her enough

Of the respect she deserves 

And the time she deserves;

Just moving, lazily and undecided,

Like it’s your right to be hers.

But it’s too late

To make a stand,

You’ve lost something special

Like you’re catching sand.

And even this poem

Is focused on yourself;

Grow the fuck up and change,

Become someone else.

The man she deserves,

Give the respect she deserves

And then you’ll have the right

To call yourself hers.

The Great British Dream

So you were wrong

about the skies getting clearer

because the people above you

built ceilings to your ideas.

But they don’t disappear,

they become memories;

The ever-present shadow

of who you were meant to be.

You try to move on

and you try to change,

yet every minute that passes

just feels the same

because you were wrong,

this world is not for you;

It’s designed for the suits

who want to sell to you.

So you forget

about times you smiled,

the times you fell in love,

and laughed out wild.

There’s a height to happiness,

reserved for a select few,

and our ladders are too short

to enjoy the same view.

Camping

Outside there is a tent

where mummy makes us sleep;

“Let’s go camping, kids!”

dragging out our bed sheets.

We are noisy little boys

and mummy can’t stand

when we fight and we shout

in front of the new man.

So we camp in our tent

made from bed sheets and pillows;

No matter the weather,

we camp in rain, wind or snow.

It’s naughty to tell friends

about the tent and where we keep it;

Teachers can never know

About mine and mummy’s little secret.

The hole

So where are we now?

It’s hard to see

if there’s anything left

here waiting for me.

Trying to look past

my next warm beer

at what needs to be done

to make a change this year.

Eat healthy, stay fit,

quit everything that kills;

Move on, get a job,

develop management skills.

And today doesn’t end

until she texts me back;

It doesn’t end, it won’t end,

until I’ve smoothed out the cracks

Which have formed in my mind

and stopped it working;

Forced numbness all the time 

which stops me hurting.

So where am I now?

Left outside your home;

Sad shapes against the sky,

Standing within myself, alone.

Offside

A cheeky wink and a smile

Four pints for a score;

The beer’s always flat 

When it’s rammed to the door.

Pushed up, pints up

pressed into my chest,

craning my neck out

to a view that’s best.

Watching the game

with roast peanut fingers

next to the toilets

where piss-air lingers

At the back of my throat

because I open my mouth

so I don’t nose-breathe 

until I scream and cheer out

Because my team has scored –

no wait, it’s been disallowed –

Fuck off, I say, 

to the chorus of the crowd.

A fight breaks out

between a pisshead and his dog

so we all have to leave 

and wade out through the fog.

I return to the flat,

stacked cans and a twenty deck,

and think about all the goals

which haven’t been scored yet.

It’s another day, another loss

and it’s hard to see

if there’s any way out,

any way to break free.

Daddy’s girl

Daddy was sleeping

In the kitchen today;

So we dressed ourselves

and we were on our way.

Mrs Taylor asked why

our shoes were on wrong;

I went all red and shy,

Tying laces takes too long

and we were late

and there was no car

to take us to school,

to take us so far.

And still, and still

I wonder for awhile

if dad is still still

on the kitchen tiles.

I hate needles,

but daddy is brave

he makes them stay

all locked away.

Once I got one

stuck in my tongue,

and the doctor asked me:

Is anything wrong?

I went away for many years,

crying and confused,

giving empty hugs

and feeling unused.

But now we’re back,

and separate no more;

So, no, Mrs Taylor,

Daddy is not sleeping on the floor.

The bad boy

I was a bad boy today,

the teachers are right

because when it’s home-time

I always start fights.

The walk home is long

because I walk the long way

because the door won’t open

Until mum is awake.

I’m ugly 

because my clothes don’t fit;

They’re old and sticky

and smell like shit.

My hair is messy

and sometimes dirty

and this is why 

all the big boys hurt me.

And if daddy is home – 

well, dad’s never home –

but if he is,

he’s on his phone.

He moves through the house,

not smiling or talking,

eyes on anything but me;

Just texting and walking.

Yesterday, I was angry

and I don’t know why; 

So I swung my arms about

because it’s naughty to cry.

The canteen

Hospital food is so cheap. Well, it seems it to me. I suppose it has to be when it’s cheaper to park on Mars than within a mile of the A&E. The food tastes good too. Great, even. Tastes like it could soften the pain. Or at least take your mind off of it for a while. 

A ginger sponge pudding with custard. Yum. I never usually like ginger, but on this occassion, this very minute, it tastes like the best thing I’ve had in a long time. Such a long time. I don’t even mind that no-one will sit across from me to hear me complimenting the menu. They have their own things to worry about. Like me.

The vegetable chilli is nice too. Very nice indeed. I’m not a vegetarian, but I thought I’d try something different. Something healthy. I suppose I have to start at some point. People keep telling me I need to change, that it will benefit me in the long run, it will help lift my mood and enable me to live longer. And I’m told that this is important. A healthy life. A long life.

The lady comes around and picks up the trays. She asks to take mine. I decline. I’m finished but I’d rather put it away myself. I like doing things for myself. It helps me feel in control. It’s all you have really – control over your actions. Nothing else.

My appointment finished 5 hours ago, yet I can’t bring myself to leave. I’m trying to work out why. But it’s difficult. Maybe it’s the delious food, which is affordable too – such a delight. Maybe I don’t want to bring the news home. Maybe, whilst they don’t know, my family will assume that all is well.

The salt sachets never really hold enough salt. Well, that’s just my opinion, I’m sure I just eat more salt than others so I suppose it might be enough for the average person. I used to add salt to my vegetables because my mother had a talent for boiling the taste out of them. She did her best though. A better cook than me. Definitely. I would start cooking more if I had more time. But life is busy. Life is complicated now. So, no new hobbies for me. Yes.

I get up and walk to the exit of the canteen and, just as I’m about to leave, I realise I still have today’s newspaper in my bag. What a lovely surprise. Unread too. I return to my seat, open it up and dig into the articles. Cuts, cuts, cuts. And they wonder why we’re all dying in the waiting rooms? The cap doesn’t help either; it’s just pushing the poverty line higher. Too high. Kids are going hungry because the money’s gone after the rent is paid. So mummies and daddies everywhere are  now being accused of neglect. That ain’t right. Neglect doesn’t means poverty. I guess they’ll have to hire more social workers to blame. It’s all broken. Like being shit on from a great height. You can’t see who did it, but you know it was by someone with the power to decide not to fuck up your day. Shame on them all. Such a shame.

The news makes me angry. It makes me sad. But I can’t stop reading. It’s killing me. With each word I feel this itch within me become more numb. It feels like it is sinking. Being buried. Dead. Every word. My brain loves it: reading. Learning about things that are separate from this day. This day in this hospital. This day that is the end of everything. Where I can’t stop reading. Burying that itch. The news is very interesting today. I better call the family and let them know this could take all night.

Ending the cycle

This old and rusty tongue,

The one that made her come

Out from all the darkness;

And left her in space for days,

Heartsunk and drunk – a dirty haze;

Eyes moving, stareless.                   

This love has no life,

It chose an unborn wife,

 A mess of bones, twisted;

Chained to his house and his name,

Fingers pressed on her brain;

Lips shut by a fist.

He is the lover’s joke,

Written from lines of coke,

Desireless with each sniff;

As the blood drips old,

A burning cold

Dissolves his mind into a myth.

She saw the darkened nights,

The day she chose to fight

Out from the water, trembling;

She then turns back to him

Takes the blade to the skin

he’s dripping in. 

Just clothes and broken bones,

Covered by dirt and stones

As she finally buries him;

She paints the purple on her face,

Standing, not a hair out of place,

And waits for life to begin.

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