Sympathy

They’re talking about his pub of the year award,
how every chair has a bum on it, the way
the new year has done wonders to his skin,
how the Manchester air will drop to minus four
tonight, how Tom has de-icer in his satchel,
how the pints are falling easy for a Monday.
The landlord’s football team lost 5-0
at the weekend to the alien town I’m from.
The regulars are talking,
doing what they can not to mention it.
The landlord says he doesn’t care
and is winking at me while they spend more
in conversational sympathy.

© Carl Burkitt 2023

A ghost is using the hand dryer

I need to know what it’s been touching.
If a spirit’s fingers can get filthy in the afterlife
then you’d think they could feel paper towels,
maybe it would be scarier seeing them float
above a public toilet’s sink.
Is fried chicken greasier in hell?
Are doughnuts stickier in heaven?
I need to know what it’s been touching,
but it’s nice knowing manners never die. 

© Carl Burkitt 2023

Storm

His mobile phone rings.
He takes it off the Friday lunchtime
pub table, clears his throat,
and puts it to his ear. Hello, yeah
not bad thanks… just out for a little walk
at the moment. Yeah, no, you’re right,
it’s not that windy, no, yeah, it is windy,
but…my phone has new technology
that cuts out any background sound…

His three mates start blowing
from their mouths, whistling
to mimic the sound of a breeze.
Oh, you can hear the wind now? Hmm,
maybe it’s broken, yeah, speak soon boss
.
His cheeks go sunset red,
his mates’ laughter weathers the storm.

© Carl Burkitt 2023

Putting a letter in a post box

The envelope
drops on to the endless pile.
My fingers wave to the names
lying in wait to hear happy birthday,
happy new year, how are you?,
we should meet up soon, please reply,
where have you been?, are you OK?,
this is your final warning,
congratulations on the birth of your baby.

© Carl Burkitt 2023

Snoring

I am asleep
on a train snoring
and strangers are laughing
and I am awake
and I laugh with the strangers
and the strangers laugh louder
and the snoring starts again
and the laughter stops
and I float out of the window
like a ghost with no ticket.

© Carl Burkitt 2023

The struggle he has to overcome

I’m reading a book
because I like reading books
and in this book
I am reading about a man
who is reading a book
because he likes reading books
and I’m struggling to find any flaws in him
and I cannot work out the struggle he has
to overcome and he doesn’t seem to care
that he eats too many crisps
and how his hair doesn’t sit the way it should
or the fact his shoelaces have broken
because he can always order new ones
and I’m now on page 36 and he hasn’t
blamed the death of a stranger
on the fact he got on the wrong bus that time.

© Carl Burkitt 2023

Running with no headphones

Two anvils are taking turns
clanging on to tarmac.
Breath is punching out of a dry mouth.
The broom that lives at number 36
is scratch-scratching the leaves
to clear a path way.
Morning birds are chirping me on.
Raindrops a weeping from tree branches
at the sheer effort of it all.
A 6 foot 4 man is in my left ear
talking about speed and quadriceps.
A different 6 foot 4 man is in my right,
trying to read the lips of puddles.

© Carl Burkitt 2023

Oh, Man

I’m on a train opposite the most handsome man
I have ever seen in my life. I don’t know what to do.
His hair is Matthew McConaughey. His hands
are George Clooney. His hips are André 3000.
His white shirt is half a size too small, not tight,
but the top button won’t quite do up
and his sleeves are teasing a watch on one wrist
and a friendship bracelet from the luckiest
person in the world on the other.
His trousers are the blue of a whale’s soul. He’s wearing trainers, so I can see us
going for a walk or playing a game of pool.

© Carl Burkitt 2023

Watching

The man on TV has been told
he might die in surgery
and he explains
how he will find the one breed
he’s always wanted to find while bird watching
when he survives. I’m not sure
he heard what he was told
so I turn the volume up
but the scene has changed. People are
talking about sex or crisps or something.

© Carl Burkitt 2023