Reluctant Father


I am the reluctant father of countless poems,
far too many for me to remember them all,
far too many for me to care about them all.
I take perverse pleasure in embarrassing my offspring
by telling people that a lot of them were conceived
on public transport, where
in spite of the earliness of the hour
I would groan, grimace and sweat,
suggestively chewing on an old biro.
Fellow commuters would look away embarrassed
whispering to each other that this sort of thing
was better done at home behind closed doors.
Good job they didn’t know that
I bought a lot of my kids up in pubs.
scoffing scratchings while they cried and puked,
ignoring their clamouring for my attention while I necked gin,
leaving them in ashtrays or under tables
while I staggered home alone.
I’d sometimes force my poetry children
to compete against each other
in popularity contests on social media.
No likes for you means into the shredder you go,
victory means the winner fights again,
the Hunger Games of poetry, until exhausted
a new popular child grinds the losers face into the dirt,
while I smile.

I bound my family in paper and ink chains
behind a glossy cover of lies.
Then left them on a bus
embarrassed to be seen with them in public.

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