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

Small talk in the park

You’re right, it hasn’t been great weather
recently. Yeah, he does smile a lot.
I know he should be wearing socks
but if you can show me how to keep them
on him I’ll pay you four hundred thousand pounds.
The flowers are doing pretty well.
It’s not a coat but it’s quite a thick hoodie
and he’s got a jumper and a vest on.
We moved about seven months ago now.
I wouldn’t call it babysitting, he’s my baby.
Yeah, we’re just down the road. It is handy
being so close to the park. It’s a chance
to meet other people.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

Live music

will remind your skin it can stretch
and that people have backs of heads.
There are walls but it doesn’t matter
because your heartbeat is in your heels.
You don’t need to share blood to be brothers,
the rhythmic bounce of your necks will do
and the joint noticing of the man with arms
the size of legs up in the air. We joke about
missing the train from Liverpool but we are
fathers with sons who dance to the sound
of fingers on kitchen counters and the
scratch of knuckles on trying-their-best-beards.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

Sleeping in a church

There is a walnut door
and brick walls made from grey
with a chocolate ceiling
and a rug like a speckled pastel rainbow
and curtains that don’t exist
but would be beige if they did
like the set of cupboards and drawers
and the dishwasher is ghost white
but it doesn’t matter because the gravestone
nestled in the entrance hallway for John and Alice
is all I am thinking about.

© Carl Burkitt 2021