We have to

You don’t know how to tell us what’s wrong
so you scream until the lightbulbs shake.
We have to teach you how to talk.
We have to teach you ABCs.
We have to teach you the difference
between satsuma and tangerine.
We have to teach you all the dog breeds.
We have to teach you metaphors are paint brushes
and similes are like metaphors.
We have to teach you where people go.
We have to teach you about space
and the importance of having it and giving it.
We have to teach you how to say Pringles.
We have to teach you to take it easy on yourself.
We have to teach you
that we don’t know what we’re doing.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

We adapt

I ate a flapjack at your funeral today.
Your coffin was in the middle of my laptop.
I watched pixels with hair I know
climb into seats two metres apart
with masks across their faces.
A woman we’ve never met
told us how you liked singing in the shower
and playing board games with your daughters.
I could see tears through the backs of skulls.
Fat Bottom Girls
blasted through the Lenovo speakers
and I smiled as the webcam ended
and my family disappeared.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

A new flavour of Pringles

Some days there will be 11 onion bhajis
in the pack of 10 you bought.
There will be trains on time
and Chocolate Oranges on offer
and a 5-5 draw involving a team you don’t support.
Some days there will be hiccups from a baby,
a new flavour of Pringles,
a night of watching home videos,
a thumbs up from a bus driver.
Some days there won’t be.
There will be the shadows
of all that happiness: a cool place to lie
and embrace the darkness until you’re ready.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

There they go

We may have walked past our best friends.
He had a beard, like me, but the black mass
glistened like he takes care of it.
His charcoal tracksuit bottoms fit perfectly.
I bet he calls them his trackies.
The woman he was with had a long puffer jacket
like Arsene Wènger on the sidelines at winter
and the big-rimmed glasses of Deidre Barlow.
Their arms were hooked together
like they’d been dancing all morning.
I couldn’t age them
because we won’t know them until the future,
where he’ll ask me questions like he means it
and she’ll make a wicked savoury pie.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

Double bogey

I’m watching a documentary about Tiger Woods.
His Dad is comparing his son
to Buddha and Gandhi and predicting
his humanitarian gifts to the world.
It’s 9am. The birdies have sung their songs.
Your head is an awkward white ball,
there’s a green stain on your sloth jumper
and you have the TV remote in your wet mouth.
The bags under my eyes are bunkers.
Your finger strokes the rough patch on my elbow.
We sit peacefully in our divine mediocrity.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

Working on the little details

It’s a perfect sphere
made of 32 intricately stitched hexagons.
There are 12 highlighter orange triangles and
the word Mitre is printed in football boot black.
The M is exactly one inch tall.
I cannot see a single blemish
and it’s deflated 25% through lack of use.
I often think about the man
in the writing workshop who said
You could improve on the little details
and my thumbs are 17 years old
shaking a crumpled sheet of A4 paper
with a scribbled blue biro speech
next to a newly planted tree you’ll never see.
I have no idea how many students are there
but I think the German teacher is wearing shoes.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

New postcode

I’ve never said Goodbye to a postman.
I’ve said Cheerio and Take care
and the odd See ya letter
under my breath,
but I’ve never said Farewell forever.
I’ve never stood at the door
and thanked a postman for his service,
for asking how my wife’s doing,
for remembering our son’s name,
for hiding precious packages in safe places,
for being a smiling reminder
that the world still exists.
Today is Saturday
and Colin works in the week,
so I’ve never said Goodbye to a postman.
I’ll have to think of another way
to get in touch.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

Unlikely tag teams

Socks and Work Stuff
Coat Hangers and Pyjamas
Umbrellas and Fairy Lights
Today we are boxes,
a pair of lost kids
lined up in a register
of temporary nicknames.
Ornaments and Plasticine Heads
Photo Frames and Harry
Llama Blanket and Miscellaneous
On Sunday
these unlikely tag teams
will split up throughout a new home,
smiling across the room.

© Carl Burkitt 2021