A soaking wet red phone box

There’s a business card
sellotaped to a black notice board
graffitied with the word WHAT
below two panes of glass
that have been tampered with
by fingers desperate to be see through
and a forehead trapped in skin
stretched by the thoughts
of goalkeeper lying helpless
and a puddle of process Orange Reef.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

Painting the flat that Dave built

The carpets have been lifted,
the bones of floorboards look strong.
Jack Johnson is making banana pancakes
in the kitchen. The doors are open
like the smile behind a wedding camera.
I’m asked How many profiteroles did you manage?
over and over in the space between my ears.
Flecks of year-round tan are refusing
to hide behind emulsion.
Rollers are helping spread a heavy day
across walls as tall as a lifetime.
Manchester is thinking.
There is no dust in my eyes.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Sainsbury

Jeff Sainsbury (born March 21, 1956),
also known by his nickname from the stranger
at the window, Bus Stop Man,
is a grey haired chap known for sitting
at bus stops with an orange bag for life.
Career: His shoulders scream Army,
his hands whisper Baker.
Personal Life: Despite sitting at the bus stop
for an hour (sometimes two) at a time,
he never gets on a bus. He just chats
to anyone who walks by with a smile.
Controversy: He is a ghost.
See Also: The Alexandra Pub.

© Carl Burkitt 2021

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