You Called Me B*tty Boy

You called me “b*tty boy”
a word that tumbled from your mind
and out of your mouth
unthinkingly.

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 –
spew.

It’s cowardice.
It’s never one-on-one
that you target someone
for who they are;
target us,
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.

mushrooms tomatoes scrambled egg

“Café Sandwich Bar”
written backwards across
the window
mushrooms tomatoes
scrambled egg

warm golden spread
on soft white bread
brown and red sauce in
brown and red bottles
Formica tables
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,
to takeaway.

Foul language

You must not cuss
at the Job Centre Plus

Neither should you swear
at the Pull & Bear

Do not eff or blind
in a branch of Mind

And utter no profanity
In an HMV

Now, they mainly sell posters and T-shirts there,

But still, watch your fucking language, yeah?

Poor Woodstock Children

I sat on a bench along a footpath that shoots out eastward between meadows from University Park. Clearheaded from running, I felt elated by endorphins, the sepia autumn sunlight, and pride at having recently become a graduate student at the University of Oxford.

Then, a woman and her son – a chubby boy of around eleven or so – came walking along the path.

“They were poor Woodstock children!” the boy whispered theatrically.

“What are you saying?” the mother replied, flustered, possibly embarrassed by my presence and not wishing for a stranger to judge her by her son’s nascent snobbery.

A few seconds’ later, two Labradors came bounding along, followed by two women. One of the dogs panted toward me, and began sniffing enthusiastically around my groin. Thankfully, one of the women then called it away, smiling to show her embarrassment at her dog’s wandering nose.

Getting up, I walked in the direction from which they had come. Toward me came two young girls, also of around eleven. One was small and blonde, the other was larger, with black hair in cornrows that cascaded down to braids.

“Keep running mate,” the latter said, sarcastically.

I attempted an expression that conveyed disapproval yet also wry amusement at her remark. I then broke back into a run and kept going along the long, straight path, where the trees provided coolness yet obscured the view of meadows on either side.

We’re not getting a cat

I was sitting on the top level of the double decker bus going from Blackbird Leys to Oxford city centre, on my way to work. We were going down a road of semi-detached, 1930s houses, between the bridge over the ring road and Temple Cowley.

I had just taken my earphones out because I was getting a slight pain in one ear. I got The Fountainhead out of my bag. I was on the last 50 pages or so, and keen to try and sprint to the finish of such a marathon read.

I then heard the conversation between the mother and young boy sitting across the aisle.

“Mum, I wish we lived in one of these houses, because then it would be a proper house, and it would be cold, but its made of stone so it would be okay, oh look at that bird!”

“Stop going on,” she replied.

“Mum, imagine if one day the top of the bus slided off and landed in the middle of the room.”

She tutted.

“Look at the lovely grass and the cat. Mummy would you like a cat?”

“We’re not getting a cat.”

A few moments later, they got off the bus. I saw them walking down the street from the window. He was skipping, and she looked down at him and smiled as she took his hand in hers.