Goal

You are in
your first football kit
eating biscuits
smiling at a camera.
I am by a river
on the other side
of the universe
in front of three screens
holding a mouse
that doesn’t know
how it got here.

© Carl Burkitt 2022

023 – available if unoccupied

Chewing gum sits on the train seat
like anybody who has ever sat on a train seat,
looking out the window counting trees
silently whistling to forget how its brain
is stuck on the same track. Did you remember
the kitchen roll, the potatoes? Don’t forget
to double check everyone knows where you’re
going. Keep going. Get jammed in the teeth
of a commuter hoping to wipe away
the smell of raw red onion from a sandwich
on the go. It might be worth checking
the man opposite has finished with his
bottle of juice before you head to the toilet
because I think there’s a bin near the door.
Keep an ear out for your phone
in case you’re ever free.

© Carl Burkitt 2022

How much do you know about AI?

Emails catch me off guard when I’m being a human.
I think about microwaves
wishing they could take a coat of plastic
casing off in the summer, kettles screaming
that their insides are boiling. We’ve all done jobs
we hate. Do alarm clocks want to wake us up?
Our television winks when we turn it off
and sighs when we turn it on. I feel
my joints in the middle of the night
dreaming of being made out of the metal
used for the wings of airplanes.

© Carl Burkitt 2022

Pig

There’s a pig on the shower tiles
made out of blue bath crayons.
It looks tired. Its tail is barely attached
to its wonky body. It’s learning how to be
here, unable to move its mouth
the way we are around it. It’s watching
everything, it’s watching nothing,
it’s completely unaware it is a pig
and not a pig and how loved it is.

© Carl Burkitt 2022

The overhead projector monitor

She holds you by the edges,
desperate not to leave a smudge.
Her eyes are see-through, crisp.
Every word she says is clear and laid
gently like you’re the only one alive.
Look up and you will know what to say,
what to sing, what it means to be
in a room built for you to yell.

© Carl Burkitt 2022

Unused toilet rolls

stand in a pyramid like cheerleaders
proud of their mate who’s in the show,
the one on the back bit of the toilet.
I just searched online for its name
and an illustration suggests it’s called the tank.
I was born pretty much the same way
as adults who know words like shut-off-valve
and don’t particularly smile at floor flange.
What do they do when they brush their teeth?

© Carl Burkitt 2022

Away

This city doesn’t care
about the football match I’m watching alone.
It’s on silently in the corner of the pub,
my commenters are Duran Duran
and the sound of pool balls clinking.
An impressive save is made
and the crowd are ice cubes
clapping in a pitcher of red cocktail.
A man is eating a slice of gammon
the size of a centre circle
with his back to his wife.
There is an exit sign next to the TV
that feels like home.
Duran Duran just got turned off,
the commentary is getting louder.
Gary Neville is talking the language of the carpet.
The gammon has gone.
The man has his arm around his wife.

© Carl Burkitt 2022

One night

After James Tate

We had a big fight one night –
all the blood in my body,
the rich tea biscuit bones,
the rotting bench in the park,
tight leather loafers, chest pains,
wet look gel, the smell of chicken,
that tree we once stood around
and read speeches with our
17-year-old mouths, the sun.

© Carl Burkitt 2022

SUBJECT LINE: How does your future look, Carl?

Thanks for your email, Paula.
I’m certain it involves gravy
and roast potatoes cooked
impatiently. I won’t make it
on Parky and I’m already
the age of a third choice goalkeeper,
but I will see faces in tree trunks,
celebrate putting socks on standing up,
and eat crisps from time to time.
I will be the old lady in the park
who’s watching my son laughing
at daisies in the grass. She’s holding
her husband’s hand and crying
in that way you do
when you realise nothing will be
the same, and that’s OK.

© Carl Burkitt 2022

Your smile is our reputation

The sign outside the new dentist surgery
on the high street by the pizza restaurant
is standing to our right. You are rejecting
a packet of carrot puffs with a voice
desperate to learn my language. Your fingers
are sticks of dynamite pointed at my nose,
strangers are eyes rolling back in time.

© Carl Burkitt 2022