James Brown is buried in Plymouth

When our ears are in different rooms
we invent conversations we never knew
existed. He’s buried where?
It’s like dancing with an octopus.
You have to be with him though.
I can feel my brain asking my mouth
to repeat a language not invented yet.
Why would I take a dead man with me?
I do though. Everywhere I go.
He’s not dead. He’s with auntie Jane.
He’s with everyone I guess; in the clothes we wear,
the records we kept, the calls we never made.
Jane’s Brian, he’ll get a discount to Plymouth,
he needs to be with you on the train though.

© Carl Burkitt 2022

I blink

I leave the house for two days
and when I return you are a giraffe.
You still have the head of a chimp
but you have learned how to reach
the tops of surfaces with your mouth.
You can say Leaf and Lion
and you enjoy vegetables. I blink
and you are a whale in the bath
laughing at water up your nose.
I cough and you are a digger
scooping up the Earth whenever you can.
I blink and you are book and an apple
and a dinosaur and an upturned
packet of rainbow coloured crayons.
I yawn and you are train
running away from the station.

© Carl Burkitt 2022

We could

For World Suicide Prevention Day

We could buy fishing rods
and stand on river banks
or hold darts and pretend
to appreciate the weight
or learn to bake and laugh
at soggy bottoms or climb
mountains or learn squash.
We could sit with our shoulders
next to each other looking out
from our porch as old men
talking about what we used to ignore.

© Carl Burkitt 2022

A memory

The moon is dropping
like an old coin into a memory box.
A bloke on the radio is miserable,
he can’t stomach his chinese takeaway.
Music has forgotten
it is allowed to be an escape
and not soundtrack a mood.
I woman has the greatest anecdote
on the world but refuses to say it
out of respect, despite it being about someone
who is known to have a good sense of humour.
Hobbies are dead for a few days
but they will return and we will sing
a new song.

© Carl Burkitt 2022

Lamer

We are in the car looking
for a digger on the motorway.
Or a tractor. Or an ambulance.
Anything to make you happy.
I look at the vein in your neck
and I am 12 years old and not your dad.
I’m on a 24 hour coach to France
or Germany or Mars. We are looking
for anything out of the window.
We’ve eaten all our sweets
and the TV at the front is too quiet
for us to hear the film Miss chose.
We don’t know what to say to the girls
on the row next to us. So we became
rappers. Trickster J and Snazzy C,
hitting you up with a 1, 2, 3.

Tractor! You yell. I’m 35 and my rhymes
are getting lamer.

© Carl Burkitt 2022

Bohemian Barbers

The security shutter
on the front door is broken.
She comes to meet me out of nowhere
and leads us through the park
next door. We step over muddy puddles
and between trees and tip
toe through slippery woods and to the back
door of her brand new barbershop.
We walk past her daughter painting
a square room lighter. There are signs
from the Italian restaurant this used to be.
Friends natter on the shop floor,
scattered like the ends of fringes.
Coffee and tea and a chance to chat
about the brain development of a toddler
are offered. The security shutter engineer
fixes everything. A man and his dog
walk in and ask for a trim. For who?
Nobody talks to me about the weather
and a curly cloud lifts.

© Carl Burkitt 2022

Undodgeable

The coach driver is chatting
to the PE/Geography/French teacher
who is trying to learn how to teach dodgeball
to a class that don’t seem to respect him.
Just show them the Ben Stiller film,
the coach driver says, an undodgeable
inevitability.

© Carl Burkitt 2022