You Called Me B*tty Boy

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 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?

Coming Out Story – a vignette

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.

Open Windows

The view from this window will linger
long after the tenancy ends
on this flat-bound
locked down year.

I sit and stare from this window
at a cat facing their own front door,
as trains slide in and out of the station
to and from the city’s depths,
with laboured, whirring, mechanical breath.

I sit and stare from this window,
as many have and do – it’s nothing new!

You know they sit and stare
in places where idle time is a welcome break
from back-breaking labour.
Not in endless supply,
to plaster over with
mocked up, locked down busyness:
calls, catch-ups, one-to-ones,
Zoom quizzes, cocktails, online ‘fun’.

I sit and stare from this window,
a faceless form caught up
in someone else’s view, perhaps.
Or more likely, no one’s looking.

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.