Action

When time feels sticky,
my mind a closed fist,
air thick custard, to do lists
written in the wrong language,
skin a gentle flame,
I imagine I am in a documentary
giving a director Good stuff.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

The rough days

A small girl in bare feet came running up,
the kind of girl who looks like she isn’t actually alive.
There was a horrible pause.
I jumped off the bike
careful to avoid the casual use of metaphor.
Now, I’m lying in bed with the lights off
like a thing made of actual holes strung together:
a sulky eyesore without redemption,
a long random number into the keypad,
vodka out of a Sports Direct mug,
a small corner of rapture,
a chip pan fire in the kitchen:
relentless and inescapable.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

Puddle ducks

They call you a puddle duck:
your bald wings flapping in the pool,
upright beak, featherless chest
showing nipples the size of breadcrumbs.
To me you are a shark
making me hold my breath
until your head bobs back up alive
from a surprise plunge below.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

Check in

A horse trotting past
the second Waitrose in the north
with two men eating salt popcorn
sitting in a homemade carriage
is a quick and easy way
to remind yourself to check in
and see if you are awake
or in your head.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

Glasses, Green Shirt and Shoes

They’re talking about their grandchildren
with lips softer than their approach to fatherhood.
Glasses says his grandson is as good as gold
even when he forgets dinnertime. Green Shirt
describes Nibble Day: a once a week afternoon
where you can’t see the coffee table through
bowls of Pom Bears, Haribo and Party Rings.
Shoes talks about eyes that never close;
sky blue fishing nets catching every new moment
of any given minute. The silence as they sip
their tarmac black stouts is the chance
for their tongues to swirl the word
‘pride’ into foamy white tops.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

Full time

You wear suits in the week.
Your arms are coat hangers you wish
you said No thanks to when the shop assistant
asked if you wanted to keep them.
Your lunchbox has fewer Penguin Bars
than you imagined when your parents said
Get a job and you can eat what you like.
When lorry drivers let you cross the road
in the mornings you wave with all of your palm
in the hope people did the same to your Dad.
It’s hard work walking up that hill
when you’ve had no sleep, but there’s one smile
waiting next to your desk. Ten years later
he will text you a football trivia question
completely unaware he saved your life.

© Carl Burkitt 2021