I’m very pleased to be featured in this marvelous video from the talented team at Word Stafford that was put together for National Poetry Day. The video features a selection of photos from talented local photographers and some amazing responses from poets about these pictures. Enjoy.
There’s a rotten tooth stuck in my head
I blame if for all the vile things I’ve said.
As this tooth influences all that I say
My words come out twisted and stink of decay.
I just can’t control what comes out of my mouth
This world is screwed I constantly rave and shout.
Some people suggest my rotten tooth should come out
So I can cleanse my cesspit of a mouth.
Friends hope then I might start to heal
Not realising this to me has no appeal.
As I feel without this tooth I wouldn’t be me
forever condemned to write toothless poetry.
So there’s still a rotten tooth stuck in my head
I know we will be together until my last breath.
But I wonder if this tooth had any actual effect
What if my soul was always bitter and wrecked.
What if I imagined my rotten tooth was there
Because I needed something to justify why I don’t care.
I once heard a poet say
that they had a kingfisher
beating inside their chest.
And those words intrigued me,
I wanted to discover
what beat within me.
So I carefully peeled back my skin
then peered into the cage beneath.
And that’s where I met
This wasn’t some midnight black
skull perching supernatural guide
and giver of sage advice.
Instead there roosted
a mangy feathered
I asked it. “What are you doing in my chest?”
Its milky eye struggled to meet mine
then swaying a little
it opened it beak and burped.
I said. “Crow, are you drunk?
This is supposed to be a philosophical poem
and you are useless.
I bet Neil Gaiman
never has this kind of trouble.
The Crow burped again
then said. “You ask too much.”
“Oh you do talk. “I said.
” Answer me this, I’m confused.
I dissected myself
expecting to find beauty.
Yes before you say anything
I am an optimist.
But instead I found you,
“Tough.” Said the Crow.
what did you expect?
Anyway sit down
I’ve got a lot to tell you
and we have so little time.
Afterward I sewed my chest back up
with lies and swore
never to let my Crow out again.
Unless I need to hear
everything about me
that I pretend I don’t already know.
Even though we wanted to be together it just didn’t last,
we wanted to move forward but strayed into the past
a trial separation that became permanent too fast.
So now we’re living six feet apart.
I leave you kisses on a post-it note
remember your perfume by hugging your old coat
as we no longer touch and that’s what hurts the most.
As now we’re always six feet apart.
Today I walk under the sun to where you lie under the ground
knowing that if I met you again on a crazy rebound,
that we’d still mess it up a second time around.
And that we were always destined to be six feet apart.
Do you remember our last time?
Afterwards you said loving me had turned into a hate crime,
as I’d changed so little, while you’d grown so much,
I tried to hold you but you recoiled from my touch.
Then when you’d left as I lay there wishing I was dead,
the clever words came to me I wished that I’d said.
I’ll never forget our last time,
as I tried to capture it all in words and rhyme.
Imagining that if I put my memories on the page
we’d be together forever until the end of days.
However because of the way my fractured reflection goes,
which of us was right or wrong no one will ever know.
We are the one a.m. ruminators
notepads nestle next to night lights.
We are the stranded commuters
left behind with our baggage.
We are the happy hour irregulars
drowning our dreams together.
We are the broken clock watchers
more often wrong than right.
We are Marmite
spreading love and hate equally.
We are the lurkers in digital domains
searching for virtual acceptance.
We are the eternal worriers
picking at the scabs of our doubts.
We are the shattered enigmas
unable to find our missing piece.
We are stigmata bearers
scratch marks adorn hands and wrists.
We are the sum of our scars
memories multiply then divide us.
We are the broken puppets
use us with no strings attached.
We are the medicated masses
numb as our world falls apart.
I’d bought a tin of baked beans, Heinz, the good ones.
In later years when Mom went on an experimental cooking streak
they would be replaced with a bag of pasta shapes,
but this year as it was last year I’d bought baked beans.
I lined up in the assembly hall with the rest of my class
and when I got to the front avoided the Headmasters eye,
trying instead to shove my beans to the back of the harvest display.
Cag-handed I knocked over Jason Spruce’s harvest basket
– an immense donation, rumour had it his mom hand made the basket –
Anyway his home grown apples bounced wildly across the floor
and his packet of Alpen split wide open.
The harvest festival was briefly delayed as the caretaker
threw down some chemical sawdust,
– the kind he usually saved for when kids had been sick –
and set to work with his trusty mop and bucket.
As I sat shame faced I could feel Jason Spruce and his family’s eyes
burn into the back of my neck I noticed the harvest display
was full of tins of baked beans.
A proud green tinned army, some dented
victims of playground fights some with
faded labels where they had been found at the back of dark cupboards.
There were baked beans and plenty of them,
plus in support a scattering of spaghetti hoops.
When we filed out to go back to class an old lady
from the home the school supported whispered to me.
“We all hate Alpen and those apples are always sour.
We like the beans though, especially on toast.”
I wanted to smile but as inevitable as the dark nights
that were drawing in a fight was coming with Jason Spruce
and I needed to keep my wits about me.
Love is like a fresh cup of coffee,
even though it burns you hold tight.
Its sharpness jolts
yet you still want more
before it turns cold.
Love is like a foreign language
in which everyone is fluent except you
and in spite of all your efforts,
you constantly struggle
to be understood.
Love is like the end of the world,
you panic, you want to hide
but you don’t want to die alone.
So you run out on to the street and scream,
“I’m ready for this.”