hotel

She hated the way he repeated himself
all along long corridors like a bad hotel carpet, 
and how, like a bad hotel carpet, he’d wait, 
impatient, at the bathroom door
so he could start up again as soon as she left.

She hated the way he positioned himself
to force her to cross him when she wanted
to leave, and how, like a bad hotel carpet,
he’d always know first about people’s affairs
and boast how he kept them all quiet. 

She hated the way he grabbed at the door
like a bad hotel carpet whenever she slammed
it, and his habit of leading her straight
from that door through the hall to the bedroom, 
as if he couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.

She hated the way she could easily see him
in a Rotary Club or Masons’ Grand Lodge,
and how, like a bad hotel carpet, he was
the same in the bedroom as he was in the bar, 
as he was in the bedrooms of all of the others.

She hated the way he’d wait at the doorstep
if she stayed out too late, or roll, bright red, 
out into the street, and how, like a bad hotel
carpet, his pattern seemed chosen to mask
all the dirt, his surface to muffle her steps.


First published in The Poetry Review

 

pressure

the road clear the day once in a summer
hot the car so light with just the two of us
shirts slung around our necks seatbelts off
singing to rubber soul on cassette and going
eighty eighty five downhill when we hit
the pheasant so clean and hard it pops

i count feathers disappearing one
by one in the rearview mirror pull
into the nearest petrol station pressure
wash blood from the bonnet of my car
from the headlights from underneath
the wheelarches while you keep watch
tell me shaking i would do this with you
i would do this with you if we’d killed a man

 

First published in bodies declare themselves (Poetry Book Society)

 

IS IT,
OUR RELATIONSHIP,
EVEN A THING?

 

Or do we put it
in the category of clouds, 
forests, beaches et cetera – 

that which is marvellous
and foreboding
but which
on closer inspection
doesn’t really exist,

being individual raindrops,
individual trees,
grains of sand –

and if we do,
does that mean
that there is no ‘us’, 

or that there is an ‘us’
but we only exist
in those moments
we’re doing things together

or, if not doing things, 
thinking of each other?

And if that is the case
should we not perhaps
be kinder to each other
and do more things?

I only ask
because I’m watching
this documentary,
called Saving the Rainforest,

and they’ve spent
the whole time
tending
individual trees.

 

First published as 'Sponge' in Textual Practice.

 

typhoon lagoon

the light is red so you sit     and from up here you can see the long tray of the landing area the wet
concrete around it     and older girls pulling wedgies from arses paler than underwear       clutching
string tops to new chests     you want to slide and arrive next to them in a spray of giggles     to
emerge through a curtain of holiday braids     to climb out of that wet lane into a thinner body
with skin as gripped to you as your t-shirt is now     to stand with sunburn peeled off by waterjet
and friction     the drips to run clean from your hair     not milky with sunscreen     you don’t want
to wear sunscreen         you want to be dark and hard as underfoot dust     to sit on a bar stool
next to a girl with eyes as brown as her forearms     and to peel off fives for ice-creams and fanta
you want to slide and emerge as a man     but the light has been green for seconds now       the foam
is still gushing past only colder     the line has gone quiet     people are staring      and without
quite knowing how     you’re making the burning walk back down the stairs storey by storey a
lifeguard is guiding you down     and at the bottom a man who was places behind you in the queue
soaks you in hard spray   stands in the half-inch of gurgling water    unsticks his shorts from his balls

 

First published in Magma

For a full list of publications, see CV