Archive for January, 2012

Cocktail hour





























Someone, somewhere, is drinking a margarita.




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old stones

old stones

a re-draft of a piece from 2008


I spent so many barely lit days that were never quite spring or summer

Tracing paths upon that beach outside this city

That felt so far but was never so far it felt AWAY

And stared down at my feet in my soft cheap shoes and past them at stones, not sand,

Washed in by an ocean I have only stood in once (fully dressed)

Thinking how dull they are

How dull but how no two match

Some grey and white some pink, like tiny hard organs

Loose little lungs, solid amongst the drift beneath my sore feet

And behind my eyes I feel as though I know now

All of the days wasted here

Are over

For amongst the greys and whites and pink dull surfaces

I found the one that shone

I keep it where I breathe

Amongst soft wet red things

Tender, beating and alive


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A Saturday night out

That started the moment you woke up

Butterflies in your stomach

So much to do, so little time.


The greasy tenners earned

In the pubs and golf clubs

Burning a hole in your pocket

Entrusted by the others

With no older sister or brothers.


You have been given responsibility

Now if only that other lazy fucker

Would get out of his bed

And go to the Strand and get the beer

Maybe you could relax.


Wishing the hours away

Till you wolf down your tea

Trying to maintain some semblance of control

If your folks knew how much you were looking forward to it

They’d never let you out in a million years.


A lap of the shower

A careless shave

Leaving nicks of red on your throat

Gel in your pocket

You try to leave the house

Looking like an altar boy

What they don’t know can’t hurt them


Around the corner, you fish the plastic bags

Full of cheap lager out of the hedge

The cheap carrier handles

Cut the fingers off you

But you’re the man.


Your eyes flit from one side of the road to the other

A couple of lads with hoodys and a Stanley knife

And this could be a very short night out

Even though the coast is clear

The lights take an age to change.


The lads are outside the church

In the shadows in the carpark

Safety now in numbers

Let the fun begin.


Everyone cracks open a can

The nervous laughter becomes easier

You put the gel in your hair

Looking for all the world like

A punk that swallowed an altar boy.


You’ve tucked your jeans into your boots

And unbuttoned your shirt

Your hands jammed in the pockets of your cheap jeans

As if somehow it makes you a star.


Two Wrigleys later and the bouncer pretends to be fooled

Despite your eyes being

Like pissholes in snow

Your balance threatened by the turbulence

On the high seas of drink.


You go into the hall

The wall of music hits you

And you cling to it

Like an old friend.


It’s a thousand degrees on the dancefloor near the stage

Your sweat darkening the jacket you’re afraid to remove

For fear it won’t be there when you get back

Because it wouldn’t.


The DJ slows it down

Playing the same records your parents danced to

Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen”

As she refuses you for the fourteenth time

Like the girl, the irony is lost on you.


Your disappointment doesn’t last long

Blinded with hormones and stupidity

You didn’t see her watching you

But you ask

And the girl with the jet-black hair says yes


She holds you tighter as the seconds tick away

Both of you knowing that soon the tempo would kick up again

And the moment might be gone forever

“Alternative Ulster” is not a song

To fall in love to.


In your head you sound like a movies star

“Let’s go outside,” you say

In reality you’ve barely managed to squeak out the words

But she nods silently anyway,

Wishing for this.


You lead her by the hand

Trying desperately to think of something smart to say

In danger of drowning in your shallowness

If you were ten years older you’d know

That her tiny hand in yours

Was all you needed.


For the want of something better to say

You kiss her

And she swallows you whole

Your head spins

With the teenager’s conviction

That it’s never safe just to do nothing.


Deep down you know you’ll ruin it eventually

Scaring her, scarring her fragile beauty with your stupidity

So now it’s just a case of postponing it

As long as you possibly can.


You sit there freezing

Squeezing her tighter and tighter

On Monday kids will park their bikes here again

But tonight it feels

Like the Garden of Eden.

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thanks, ian


(after my first ever massage)


your hands are skilled, stranger

my legs feel better

my feet click and are fixed

but my brain won’t relax

all the oils in the world can’t undo those knots

the tangled lists of things to do

all the things still undone that i am wholly made of

lumps of things to do

thornbushes of places to be

though i thank you for trying

still, my back

at your touch

becomes mercury




(i’m 24 now! wooh!)

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To the victor

It’s the worst kind

You go all in

In a game you don’t even want to win

And they call your bluff, and you win anyway

But winning isn’t everything

It’s not even what you wanted.


Not when winning means keeping your word

Packing up and starting anew

A million miles away

Not when winning means not backing down

Losing a part of yourself

With little chance of ever winning it back


And when you’ve done it once

They expect you to keep going

They sit you at the table

Whisper encouragement in your ear

And put money in your pocket

As long as you make them winners too.


But in the end you walk away

Slipping out unnoticed as they toast your success

Money in your pockets

Your soul overdrawn

You made them winners like you

And lost yourself in the process.


To the victor, the spoils.

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saint scabfoot


it’s your own fault for offering me a soap-box



(i’m overtired,  i’ve a cut on my foot, i think i’m getting the flu)



as if from nowhere it creeps down to me

lightfooted on the staircase in me brain

i’d snap the neck of any creature who’d look at me twice

weak wrists or none i’m


stomping down manky wet roads

in cheap shoes with me heels cut off me

amn’t i ready to spit in the face of christ

amn’t i ready for him, dare him to speak first


i may well be leaving bloody footprints onfenian street

for only to drag myself my own twelve stations

and away from onion rings and flat pints

and smokes and smokes and smokes


so c’mere to me til i sit on the couch and sulk

like a child thing

amidst wrappers of chocolates small cakes

that middle-aged lady-gurus oppress me out of eating, most days


but now lord amn’t i grand here beside the radiator

bleeding feet and sleepy eyes aside

in the hush of my home in the early evening

in the hush i might just sleep here


if i wake and my foot is stuck to the floor with the scabs on it

from weeping heels scabbed into the wooden panels

call the papers and tell them it’s stigmata

encase me in marble so i won’t have to move


send girls in their twenties with sore feet to pray to my silence

leaving cakes and flowers and candles

i can’t promise i’ll look after them

i can barely look after myself




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The angry flash of the red -blue lights

Bounces off the walls

Of the closed-off street

There’s a man in a vest

Far away from the rest

And he’s threatening to take them all down.


“Don’t come near me or I’ll do it

You all know I’ll do it

I’ll blow us all to kingdom come.”

Sick of being used

Crazed and dazed and confused

This dynamite his answer to their lies.


All along he’d been assured

If he did what he was told

It would all work out in the end

And even if he had his doubts

He wanted to help out

So he sold us all out for a handful of magic beans.


But now it’s time to call a halt

Call a bluff, call them out

See if the doom they promised would come true

But he heaped humiliation

With every budgetary oration

Now he’s short on friends both sides of the fence.


Foreign whispers are heard

From behind the barricade

How far away would this blast be heard?

And given their devotion

To every banker’s favourite notion

How would this play at the opening bell?


There’s no more negotiation

It’s either his way or the high way

A flick of the switch and we’d all soon know

The answer to our question

No need for more elections

And all the way to Brussels, there’s a ringing in their ears.

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