In or out
on this side of inside
or out on the side of the outsiders —

Is it really that simple?

Stick by reed,
day by month,
the swan builds a nest
destined to drown
in the first summer storm
of spring —

but I’ve got torticollis.

Doesn’t she feel
the weight of her wings?

Hands Turning Hands

How long is a minute?
If you answered 60 seconds,
then how long is a second?
Save your neurones the workout:
I don’t want you to cut bits into pieces with your mathematical magic —
I’m not buying it.

I’ve lived seconds that stretched out across sandy deserts and sleepy states,
and minutes that measured millimetres, so microscopic I might have missed them.

What does it mean to turn the hands of a watch?
Hours of daylight and geographical position
creating the pretence of an authority that is not mine.

This train is a blink in the frame of those waiting for the barriers to be raised so they can pass the tracks, but a long and rumbling line in mine as my bum goes numb, warming the seat.

Is there someplace I can fly where I can turn back the hand to when yours was last in mine?

The Capital

With as much starch in wardrobes as on plates,
the stiff neck comes with a stiff skirt.
Watch her swish by.

Don’t take it personally if she doesn’t see you,
the tip of her nose is in the way.

The Fashion Capital
The Fascist Capital
The Racist Capital
The Race-to-the-Top Capital

I can’t be arsed with the capital.

The water comes out of a tap.
The sand is dust on brick.
The only mountains are the piles of dog shit
they are too good to pick up.

Watch her swish right into
Dino’s digested dinner.

Your Most Valuable Weapon

You are so much more
than the numbers and letters
they use to classify you:
you have a voice.

And the dates and the times
and the names and the lines
don’t make a sound…
unless you shout them aloud.

Even when they join the dots
set up by their tabloid masters,
you can erase the lines
with a single breath.

I know we get it wrong time after time,
but can you blame me for believing
that, deep down, this is all we want —
to hear and to be heard?

Social animals,
hungry for the truth.

Too many times
have they overlooked your ability,
have they abused your adaptability,
have they trampled on your dignity,
as you exercised your right to remain silent.

Your strength is in your words:
the vehicle of your thoughts,
the ally of your actions,
the commander of your future.

Be brave with your words.

When ignorance and fear battle against empathy,
they are your most valuable weapon.

The Unclean

The harmonica wheezes
through layers of dirt,
but nobody hears.

The putrid air nips at our heels.
On we trot.

The chill battles with our scarves,
But we chalk up their privilege:
blankets, books, coffee, cigarettes.

Probably a pile of pennies,
a horde of the hardest hallucinogenics.

And when it is us who are dead on doorsteps,
imploring divine mercy, beseeching sacred protection,
it will be too late to realise:
Our leprosy cannot be healed,
Our devils will not be cast out:

We are the unclean.


Real conversations don’t come along often.

anecdotal diarrhoea
the driest drivel dribbling
the me me meaningless

the smallest of small talk

Not even registered by the scales of the memory,
a light breeze blows into one ear while the words trickle out the other,
leaving nothing behind, they get tangled in your hair,
but you’ll wash them off in the morning with the soapiest suds of the silkiest shampoo.

Goodbye. You should’ve said it.

Until today, when the old lady with the twisted toes turned to the student with the Roman nose and asked him,

‘Are you enjoying your book?’

her voice soft above the clacketyclack of nails on screens.

He was taken aback. We all turned. Shocked. Disturbed.

‘I’ve just started it but so far so good.’

They had nothing to give and nothing to lose, yet that was the realest conversation I’d heard all day. The commuters avoided her eye contact. Some shook their heads.

But only after did I notice that the clacketyclack had stopped.