Things I’m trying to throw out

The endless yogurt lids stuck
to the underside of the creaky pedal bin.
The Spider-Man t-shirt
that hasn’t fit my frame in 12 years.
The certificate
for Carl with a K.
The Pukka Pad diary
with that entry from that night.
The woolly hat
I wish I knew how to love.
The crusty shin pads
that snapped when I stopped defending.
The splodge in my brain
that tells me I don’t deserve nice things.
The wonky bedside table
that makes me feel at home.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

Blood type

Today scientists discovered that worry is a blood type.
The sight of a goalkeeper rushing off his line
is a lorry running over my chest.
I can barely stand watching leaves fall.
Hope is making a new friend
in the knowledge you will both die.
Every supermarket name badge is you –
letters trapped in colourful coffins.
Her mouth said Everything will be OK over and over
until the words became wallpaper
in a flat she never visited.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

Tonight Matthew

I’m gonna be a wreck.
I’m gonna be squeamish of fictional injuries.
I’m gonna be wet faced as families reunite
and clog my mouth with starch.
Tonight Matthew
I’m gonna be King Edward.
I’m gonna be an easy target, a sniper’s dream.
I’m gonna be the dust down the back of the sofa.
I’m gonna be a fossil with a wandering mind.
Tonight Matthew
I’m gonna be pointless.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

How many people would you have upset?

You are every face I’ve ever let down.
I once bought a Snickers
for a train conductor I said a horrible thing to,
I didn’t know what else to do.
He said he preferred Mars Bars before Thank you.
There’s a group of gentle teenagers stuck
in the 90s hating me with just cause.
I used to think of them when I hurt myself.
You are the goosebumps on my neck
when I press send to the wrong person.
I can see you in the pub,
an imaginary 32-year-old receding hairline
charming former rivals to your table,
healing old wounds with your plaster cast smile.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

What are you thinking?

Why does it feel weird
to bite a corn on the cob with your eyes closed?
Is there anyone in the world
called Pat Test or Lou Brush?
Where do people get the confidence
to use the middle of three urinals
when all three urinals are empty?
Why don’t we just have ten thumbs?
Is a carvery the only restaurant occasion that
everyone is happy to get up at the same time and
leave their bags and coats at the table unattended?
Do Chris Hoy’s friends greet him with Ahoy Hoy?
If I didn’t go on that football weekend
would he have driven his moped down that road?
Will I ever know?

© Carl Burkitt 2020

Thinking about future past thoughts

On a hot sunny day
I like to close my eyes
and think about plasters on kneecaps,
blue salt sachets in Salt ‘n’ Shake packets,
rusty pogo stick springs and choc ices.
I think about seeing a love bite
and praying at night to never get a love bite.
I think about moss covered bridges
over waterless streams, my stolen bikes,
the first time I saw the universal sign for wanker.
I think about wonky driveway chalk drawn tennis courts,
that Crystal Palace shiny, popping candy up nostrils.
I think about look mum no hands
and cheeks against gravel
and what my child will think about
when they close their eyes
on a hot sunny day.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

Man scout

If they gave away badges
for navigating adulthood,
my jumpers would be covered in
The Fiddled With His Beard badge,
The Chewed On A Pen badge,
The Fished A Seed Out Of His Teeth badge.
My arms would be peppered with
Took Out The Bins, Unblocked A Drain,
Brushed And Mopped The Floor, alongside
Buckled Under Small Talk and Held In A Tut.
I’ve got my eyes on
Can Sit In The Sun For More Than 5 Minutes,
but until then I’ll settle for a stitched on
He Let The Little Things Go.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

No one knows quite when

I knew a man
who used the skin under his eyes
to carry the memory of adventures.
The black of festival night skies
stretched above his cheek bones,
sprinkled with stye-shaped stars.
They bulged with midnight conversations,
24-hour buses, the wrinkles of knackered smiles.
No one knows quite when it happened,
but he emptied the bags
and filled them with bad news.
He looked left and right and left and right again.
He carried the weight of coffins on his face.
His cheeks dropped
like a dream into a river.

© Carl Burkitt 2020