You’re a nice boy – you’ve always made mum proud.
There’s something you’ve got to tell her though. She’s always known you’ve been the shy and sensitive type, you were never really into sports at school, you played the clarinet. She knows that you and Harry have lived together since you met at uni in a student production of Little Shop of Horrors, but she seems to think the two of you are just very close.
So when she’s visiting you – her only son – in the big city, you take her to one of the nice (gentrified) pubs in your neighbourhood on a Sunday afternoon.
You sit in a quiet corner in the dining section. Roasts and a bottle of the house red have been ordered. You look at her meaningfully,
“Mum, i’m gay”
At that moment, the barmaid rings the last orders bell. Rainbow glitter rains down from the ceiling over your table. The Vengaboys’ signature hit Boom Boom Boom Boom starts blaring over the sound system.
Two oiled up bodybuilders in jockstraps and leather harnesses arrive out of nowhere and gyrate in front of you both.
TV presenter Anna Richardson emerges, drapes a pink feather boa around your neck, and congratulates you on being the 1,000th person to come out to their mum in that pub.
Richardson and the bodybuilders disperse, the music stops – as abruptly as it started. The waitress comes over with your roasts. When she brings the bucket full of condiments, she points out two bottles of Berlin XXX Hardcore poppers nestled between the mustard and the HP sauce.
“On the house” she says, with a knowing smile.
The descent to sleep:
eyelids heavy from the day,
thought gives way to dreams.
All the grass is parched:
dry, yellowing, and thirsty.
It’s just this way now.
You called me “b*tty boy”
a word that tumbled from your mind
and out of your mouth
Would you have been so bold
had you not been with ten of your friends?
Because its always from amorphous groups
or from the window of a moving car
that that word – and others like it –
It’s never one-on-one
that you target someone
for who they are;
for who we are.
But whether I’m wearing a dress or
whether I have a lampshade on my fucking head
do I not have the right to be me?
To walk the street,
unbothered by your hate.
Because its so boring, so uninspired,
and I’m so fucking tired
of your hate.
Maybe its just a word to you
but it sticks to me, like gum on the shoe,
like dirty grey gum on my shoe,
like dirty grey gum on my shoe.
Let me tell you
a sorry tale
of a friend who saw
up for sale
a baby micro hippo.
They went and bought her as a pet
and they named her, Bernadette,
oh! and how they loved her so,
that baby micro hippo.
But Bernadette did grow and grow,
from teeny tiny to jumbo,
it’s then my friend did realise,
the “micro” part was but a lie:
Bernadette, was a regular, and absolutely massive, hippo.
This caused my friend quite some alarm,
as Bernadette wrought untold harm,
she stomped all over this and that,
she even killed the neighbour’s cat.
My friend knew not what they should do;
their lounge filled up with hippo poo.
They had to rid her from their maisonette,
poor, sweet, heavy-footed, Bernadette.
So imbued with sadness through and through,
they sent her to live, in London Zoo.
So friends, be cautious, be aware,
pay attention, and take care
of what you see online for sale;
You could end up, in hippo hell.
On the tram
the sharp tang of us all cloys,
like the smell of
mating in the Spring.
The tram trundles;
our bodies secrete sweat
into polyester mix.
Our odours mix,
our thoughts, apart.
East Croydon station.
We move together
across the concrete, and steel tracks.
The Sun blazes down upon us,
silent, together, alone.
“Café Sandwich Bar”
written backwards across
warm golden spread
on soft white bread
brown and red sauce in
brown and red bottles
and blue plastic chairs
“yeah, escalators are scary”
a man softly answers
his young son’s story
a fork oversized
in the boy’s small hand
extra beans – a pound
extra bubble – one fifty
and I want this moment,
All the guys on Hinge
I’ve matched with,
saved in my phone contacts
with the surname
I’ve given them:
As if they’re the
and not just random guys
who’ve come my way
on an algorithm.
Maybe I just really like
staring at my phone?
Maybe that’s… my hobby?
It feels safer right now
to stare at my phone,
than stare directly into
Maybe I’ll be
staring at my phone
when the world implodes,
and we all
A cocktail bar
in a former public toilet:
people used to go there
to spend a penny;
now, they go there
to spend “12.5” on martinis,
that are mediocre
NOT a restaurant –
It’s a ris-to-ran-te, yeah?
How did you not know???