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by the unfolding head




My American Friend


tried to be self sufficient

but instead broke

my mother’s washing machine


& her world collapsed

one Thursday evening


summer sun stoking her rage


single parents fear the god

of white goods


I tried in vain

to stop her insulting you

from behind glass doors

but she kicked you out anyway


and you went to stay with my brother


& later

when porn was found

on my mother’s pc

I let you take that bullet too


I never told you that

but fuck it

you were already gone


spending your days on sofas

beguiling British adult children

with your movie voice


plucking your guitar

for an African girl

with a Swedish passport


making Brandon hill a bedpost

teletext telling you

flights to Stockholm

were more expensive

than she’d let on




a line, (a short blue one)





As a relief driver

for a sandwich shop

the important thing to learn

is that sometimes

there is no relief to give


on such occasions

I used to find myself

wearing surgical gloves

elbow deep in a vat of mayo


coleslaw for the masses

has to be mixed

with a certain



a thousand white cabbages

is not enough

to hide a morning


but a thousand carrots

is enough to make you wonder


if the rumours about the boss

& the young blonde

are true



a line, (a short blue one)





I let rip

another raw orange wave


rusty chunks

painting porcelain


then abort cornflakes

in the kitchen sink


my father’s wife

shielding her dog

from flecks of human








from real



that’s why

the hangovers hurt

the way they do


I’m out of practice

‘you ain’t got the belly for it’

my father says


I open my eyes

‘good job

you’ve got enough

for both of us then’

comes my reply


before slumping

back into atonic muscle sleep

stomach stripped bare

still as a newborn fawn

in the ashen sofa grip

of a stolid Thursday morning




a line, (a short blue one)





The dark room

was open

to first year students

most weekday afternoons



there were three

or four of us

at a time


I thought

they were just concentrating

on the spindle

like myself


but I later found out

he was fingering her


right there

less than five feet away


while I was groping

for the fruits

of my labour




a line, (a short blue one)





The United States

is a great place

to ask yourself questions like

‘how much of a man am I?’


and there are plenty of people

just willing & ready

to help


‘Why don’t you see

if you can cut down that tree

you little British fuck?’


what could I do?

I drained my beer

picked up the axe

& put my reputation on the line


it took a lot longer

than I had anticipated

and for weeks thereafter

I told people

there was one less tree

in the state of new york

because of me


until one day

I heard myself



yes, OK

it was private land

& pointless destruction


but what’s more


than that?



a line, (a short blue one)





We used to walk across

to this French pizzeria

that served thick slabs

of comfort


cheesy grease bricks

made good life rafts


I celebrated a birthday there

my brother

brought his new girlfriend


a secret Jehovah

gave me a fuchsia

Bobby LP


and as we were leaving

I asked my brother

how things we going


he told me

he wasn’t sure


if his new girlfriend

was a man


‘but haven’t you slept together yet?’

I asked


‘Yes’ he replied


‘that’s why I’m worried’




a line, (a short blue one)



Gas and Electric


Our job

was to convince

random members

of the public

to change

their energy provider


It was a sordid little set up

my supervisor and I

used to take the bus

from the centre at 9

to the outer reaches

of urban decay


& bic pens

as protection


My supervisor

was an optimist

& profusely obese

without fail

he’d be dripping

by 10


I had a cheap gold

tie from Next

& a very strong suspicion

what we were doing

was wrong


every time

the lines worked

& I was allowed in

to look for a meter

I had no clue

how to read

I would visualize

being bashed

over the head

as I peered under

the stinking staircase


It didn’t take long

for me to quit


from the first day

to the last

my supervisor was

asking about

& not receiving

his commission

‘it’ll come through’

he would say

just a delay

further up the chain


The big boss

damn near scratched

my eyes out

in the office

over milk & eggs

because I didn’t want

to work there anymore

but also because I wouldn’t

flirt back or fuck him

no matter how much

free tapas & beer


the harbor


some ten months later

a familiar mountain

of fleshy wet man

was weaving its way

through the crowd

in front of my table


I recognized the hair

the bothered


he looked homeless

without his clipboard

unshaved unwashed

a lot less



still waiting

on that commission



a line, (a blue one)


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