Staring at a painting I’ve never really looked at before

The sky is a custard dust.
There are five elephants
stood next to each other in a line.
The one on the far left
and the one on the far right
look like they’re either playing
or just very scared.
The faint squiggles of tree in the background
are the outlines of arteries
from a thick-skinned man
I’ve not hugged in months.
The elephant in the middle is glaring
down a camera that isn’t there
pretending to know what it’s doing.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

Longer and longer

Harry Hill said
I realised I was going bald
when it took me longer
and longer to wash my face.

I realised I was getting tall
when I started standing further
and further away from stages.
I realised I was getting old
when peanuts found it easier
and easier to stick in my gums.
I realised I was getting low
when my body found it harder
and harder to connect with my brain
or kick off the duvet
or smile at people in shops
or enjoy the smell of baking bread.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

A tree surgeon arrived unannounced

We’ll never see the purple leaves again,
our plum-coloured, front garden camouflage.
The whole world can see us now.
The window is streaming with condensation.
Do tree surgeons ever get commissioned
to tear down things that aren’t dying?
I would hate to see a baker
throw a freshly cooked baguette into the bin.
We went to bed without thinking
we had to even think about goodbyes.
I could feel the embarrassment
of the grubby, orange climbing harness,
hugging the trunk still
as the man he was keeping alive
finished the job.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

Stuff just always happens

I try to cross the road
and I can hear at least two sirens behind me,
a muffled argument in the distance and what
sounds like a window cracking around the corner.
The cartilage in my hip is grinding
like the table leg sized pepper
in the restaurant to my left
with too many different coloured lights.
I can see a puddle swallowing
the reflection of a miserable pigeon
and a bus driver is texting at a red light
while an estate agent is holding a phone
between his ear and shoulder at his desk,
flicking through paperwork with one hand
and tapping his laptop with one finger on the other.
Someone in a pub laughs and a cat licks its paw
and the wind is sideways and the moon blinks
and an old lady forgets me forever.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

A mess behind the door

My fridge situation is all out of whack.
I’ve got half a jar of olives
next to an Oreo Dairy Milk I don’t remember.
There’s out of date hollandaise
sitting on cans of ale I can’t pronounce.
I’ve got five eggs in one packet of 12
and two eggs in another packet of 12.
Someone’s hidden their jar of tahini
behind my reduced Milky Bar yogurts
and they’ve smuggled in microwave swede mash
alongside springs onions and fake ham.
I’m not proud of the pre-sliced Edam cheese
or unopened bottle of Pigs In Blanket Mayonnaise.
And don’t get me started
on the accidental smooth Branston Pickle.
I’ve got eyes made from onions,
my nerves are the ghosts of old spilt milk.
Every bit in the orange juice with bits
is a chunk of guilt directly from the bottle.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

Your days are denser than Jack Bauer’s

Last Thursday you got kidnapped by wolves.
Friday evening wasn’t much better
as you slipped down the plughole.
I watched an avalanche crush you on Monday morning.
On Sunday afternoon a kite caught your sleeve
and took you to the other side of the world.
It was only 20 minutes ago
that your vital organs melted into slush
and your clothes were sandpaper
and your eyes were egg cups
and your teeth grew out of our elbows.
Do you remember when the loose nail
in our living room caught a flap of your heel skin
and unravelled you like a frayed jumper?
Every time I shut my eyes you are in hell.

© Carl Burkitt 2020

Sixth sense

If I have a sixth sense, it’s probably
the ability to hear seagulls saying my name.
Or knowing which guffs will be loud.
It could be remembering Eastenders characters
from the late 90s to early 2000s
or having a face that looks like a Craig.
There’s a chance it’s ruining the mood or over-ordering
portions of chips or being hyper aware when people
look even the slightest bit away from my
direction when I’m answering their question.
It could be never being satisfied with just one Twister
or never seeing Bruce Willis out and about
or knowing when everything is going to fall apart
and completely ignoring the signs.

© Carl Burkitt 2020