At the end of the day

The greasy smear on my pillowcase
looks like all the creepy tears I’ve ever sleep-cried,
a build up of sweat from a nighttime
workout of worrying and worrying,
a puddle of blood from being shot
in the head by a nightmare,
a melting of too many thoughts from
snoring ears, but it’s none of that.
I’m just a bit gross, at the end of the day.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

I knew

After Rob Auton

When I saw the kid with no helmet
taking a selfie while cycling no-handed
down a street with no features
and Pringles were the only crisps
without a Sainsbury’s red-label price drop
and the gravel in the front garden
had more plum-coloured leaves
than the plum-coloured tree
and the voice I could hear through your phone
in the other room delivered news
while the hash browns
stuck to the baking tray in my hand
that was covered in the oven glove
with a dozen pin-sized holes,
I knew the world outside had ended.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

A man remembering a boy thinking about another boy

You are the colour
of Arsenal Football Club’s canon.
Your teeth are the waste that falls
to the ground when a bullet takes a life.
The night I got lost
in a phone box the sky was filled
with a million stars shaped like fingertips
pressing the number 9.
When bubbles in cheap lager
dance like nameless nightclub bodies
I drink toffee vodka
to remember if you had freckles.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

Delicious

After U.A. Fanthorpe

There is a kind of love called breakfast,
which reminds you
there is at least one reason to wake up;
which thinks picking a style of eggs to cook
is harder than choosing a favourite child;
which lays out the dozen condiments
across the coffee table
so you can take your time;
which leaves nothing to waste;
which mixes sweet and savoury;
which adapts; which tries;
which is just as delicious
at the end of the day
as after a difficult morning.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

Delia Smith yelling ‘let’s be having you’ on the pitch at half time to Norwich City football fans

Come on then, give it to me.
Scream your joy of dinosaurs
and stamp collecting into my wrinkled face.
Describe your favourite film to me,
shot by shot. Shout, if you have to.
Explain why the book you just read
bent the moon in half.
List every animal in order of speed.
Trip over your tongue.
Love someone who loves you
the way you love your hobbies.
Tell me every single thing I’ve done wrong.
Let your actions be a reflection in a puddle
convincing me to jump in.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

A poem for Matthew McConaughey

I imagine you
eating raspberry jam with your fingers,
transcribing whole scenes
from old episodes of Coronation Street,
collecting Pogs and Slammers.
We all have them,
little quirks no one knows about.
Do you have a favourite bench to cry on?
Are you a landscape jigsaw kind of guy,
or do you prefer puzzles with people?
You have the jaw of someone
who bites straight through a humbug.
I try not to read too many interviews with you.
The idea of you feeling out of place at work drinks
or not being a very good goalkeeper,
or stashing away Shirley Bassey vinyls
are things I want to hold on to.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

And you’ll miss it

I can’t remember
the last time you blinked
and I think you’re a lizard
and I look at my arms
and the skin is covered
in crispy scales
desperate to fall off
and my tongue is dry
and I forget what we eat
and where we live
and how often we breathe
and why you’re here
and then you blink
and we’re both eggs
waiting to go again.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

Elvis Presley in a chip shop

It’s Christmas Day and everyone has finished
eating firsts and seconds and,
in an unnamed person’s case, fourths.
There’s something about the dinner table
spending a day in the living room
that adds a level of chaos to conversations.
A man with glasses who shares my blood says
Elvis Presley served him fish and chips last week.
A teenager who is 100 years old and shares
a wall with me trusts and believes him.
She’s laughed at for 25 years
until I look at my son with eyes
I hope will be brave enough to trust and believe.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

Vigour

And she put the tangerines in her basket
to the righthand side of the dozen eggs
but on top of the dark cooking chocolate
then made her way to the magazine aisle
to flick through stories with headlines like
MY DOG HAS THE SOUL OF MY DAD’S EX
and she chose a birthday card for her sister
with a pun about gin then put it back
and chose one with a sketch of cat
then put it back and thought she’d get the card
from a different shop then went back
to the fruit and veg section to get some tangerines
but remembered she’d already got tangerines
so went to the self-service checkout to pay
then went home and retold her afternoon with vigour.

© Carl Burkitt 2020