Too Foreign for Here

“Too Foreign for Here” won honorable mention for the Boit Manuscript Prize for poetry.


Once

When I was little I never believed in love, and I still don’t believe in fairytales, but I’ve heard you talk about your acid trip the same way I’ve heard you talk about hand working a stain glassed lamp to give your mom for Christmas and it amazes me that all your wonder can exist inside one perfectly wrapped version of a human being.


Empty Boxes

“Hey bab, fancy going to lunch?”
“No, tah duck, I’m already late to work”

Three thousand one hundred and eight

– one hundred and eight
– one hundred and eighty –

Bullseye.
Bowen.
Spikey.
Green

with envy.
Oh, to be poor enough that you worry only about not being able
to afford that super cute mustard yellow jumper from Zara,
because you swore you wouldn’t spend more than $30 on yourself this weekend;
and wouldn’t it be nice to be poor enough to have those worries,
instead of worrying where and when the next meal might come.

Dreams.
I wish I had those dreams again now,
the ones which made me wake up in the mornings – trembling, shaking, terrified –
– Dextra,
a narcoleptic’s nightmare,
nightmares I wish I had again.
Nightmares haunt me no more
but, oh, how I wish they did.

Did you just?
Just calm down please.
Please can you repeat that I didn’t quite hear you?
You just need to send us an email –
Dear ma’am, I want admission.
I am writing to you today regarding my daughter’s admission …
“My son is just a straight A kind of kid and – ”
“He’s just, I mean, he’s just so smart, we joke a say he’s a whiz kid.”
Please sir, tell me how I take admission.

Ten thousand one hundred
– one hundred
– go on hun –
Dread.


Promises Broken

I miss the drive down the polar bear lamppost lane into the cul-de-sac every day, twice a day. Past the chippie where we’d go every Friday on our way back from karate with the Daly kids; and the barbers where you sit and wait until Sam is done because you won’t let the other two touch your hair even though they both regularly do a great job on Adam’s; and the local Indian that we won’t go to anymore because last time we went on New Year’s Eve mom found a bone in her chicken; and the crummy old post box that they should have replaced years ago because no one really knows how it hasn’t fallen down already. I remember when that road flooded from the brook underneath, and all our electric went out, and you and mom slept on an air mattress for weeks while we stayed at nan’s; and I still don’t really understand why it took them so long to fix it.

I miss the Friday nights sat round the telly, when you’d cook a curry that was too hot for mom, but just perfect for me, and you’d always ask me how I liked it, and each week I’d say best one yet. We’d usually be watching Corrie, and even when I come back we still do, even though I’m six months behind, but whenever Adam’s around it will be Come Dine With Me or some other second rated Channel 4 show because he hates Corrie and basically every other main stream thing we’re into.

I miss the sick days, when I’d stay off school with some cold or flu, and you, on night shifts as always, would take care of me during the day while mom was at work. You’d always go and get me a super large cheese pizza from Mama Mia’s, which is probably the worst thing you could have brought a sick child, but we’d sit and eat it together while watching Bargain Hunt, your favourite, as I choked on some Beecham’s and tried to swallow every last drop of the orange juice and sugar Bubbs made me.

I miss the late night drives you’d take me on when I was learning, because even though you’d been out all day, you’d promised me we’d have a lesson that day and you never let a promise go. I’d stall and you’d laugh. I remember when I accidentally turned the wind screen wipers onto full blast even though it was sunny out and you practically shit yourself with laughter. I miss your laugh.

I miss Disney World, sure, but mostly I miss the little things, I miss the each day. 36 days a year isn’t the same as 365, and I’ll miss the little things the other 329. But I’ll never miss the Christmas days, that I promise. Remember the year when we played family fortunes and a question came up: “who wears big boots to work?” and Gaz put “Father Christmas” and we spent the rest of the night in tears after that? Remember the year when we played Mario Kart until 4 in the morning because you had to beat Adam and if I hadn’t red bombed you on the finish line this time you would have? Remember the year when mom and Adam went to bed early so we stayed up and made snapchat videos and sang at the top of our voices because we were too drunk to care about the noise we were making? Remember when I left and you asked me to promise you that I’d come home for Christmas each year, no matter what? I promised you a whole bunch before I left, and I’ve broken most of them already, through no fault of my own. But I’ll never miss the Christmas mornings. I promise.


Brum

You’ll never forget it. You’ll miss it you know.
My mom used to show and tell me everything when I was little.
I’ll never miss it. I’ll forget it when I go.

She showed me the lakes where the ducks devoured the freshly baked Greggs loaf.
She showed me the men down The Boars Head hovering over their fish and Guinness.
I’ll never miss it. I’ll forget it when I go.

She showed me the home she had once known, the house so small we couldn’t all fit.
She showed me the streets littered with fag butts and hoodies, and reeking of Sambuca.
You’ll never forget it. You’ll miss it you know.

She told me the Germans bring their knitting and woodwork and bratwurst here every December.
She told me the kids love Jimmy Cricket coming to the Garrick in drag each Christmas.
I’ll never miss it. I’ll forget it when I go.

She told me the red rec was different now and if I wanted fresh air I should stay inside.
She told me the Sutton girls would take some time to see past my Asda shoes
You’ll never forget it. You’ll miss it you know.

She packed my things for me and brewed me one last Tetley in my favourite mug.
She hugged me tight. She waved bye-bye. I think I felt a tear grow in my eye this time.
You’ll never forget it. You’ll miss it you know.
I’ll never miss it. I’ll forget it when I go.


Knebworth Close

18. A crazy cat lady and her husband.16. A black lab hides behind a for sale sign which hides behind the black version of my dad’s car (and god damn he wishes he’d paid the extra four hundred quid for the black finish now) with L plates on, which made it really convenient for me when I was learning to drive.

14. My dad spent forty-five minutes doing CPR on her husband but he was found ten minutes after a veracious heart attack and even though my dad managed to bring a pulse back, his wife decided to pull the plug on his life support because he would have had so much brain damage that if he ever woke up he would have no idea who he even was, and she didn’t want another husband to forget her every morning until his inevitable demise. She’s still eternally grateful to my dad though, because without him, he would have been completely dead before she got home and she wouldn’t have been able to say goodbye.

12. Jason takes a taxi everyday for the quarter of a mile walk from his front garden to the Kingfisher, because on the way there he’s to anxious for his pint and tropical balti to walk, and he’s to shitfaced on the way back.

10. The bastard who never sends Christmas cards.

8. One of them is dead, but I forget which.

19. The smell of my childhood, chicken soup, and brandy. Old newspaper’s litter the ground so Minto always has something to read when he’s “got to go to the toilet” and Nan Bubbs can complete every single crossword and sudoku puzzle possible. The countdown music battles with a verse of pissing arseholes, bleedinghell, and smashing Bell’s bottles, to be the backing music of the chorus of “shit my old boots off”.17. Lovely family but the mother’s a twat.

15. Five kids, four cars, three ASBO’s, two affairs, and one parrot. Wankers.

13.

11. I’ve seen some bad shit through that cardboarded up window.

9. This will always be Elsie’s house to me. I like the new family, they seem cute, but I’m not that interested in the whole malarkey to be honest. I just hope they don’t put the fence up, it makes our garden seem so much bigger the way it is. I promised the daughter (I forget her name, Lola, maybe?) that I would watch the Little Mermaid with her on Christmas Eve Eve when I’m back in the Queen’s land, but I bet Connie will have already watched it with her by then and she’ll be into something else, just please God don’t let it be One Direction.

7. Home.


Poolside in Pasadena

She found it unnervingly settling to see the clocks
on both the oven
and microwave switch to
4.22 simultaneously.

She’s the girl
who takes a trip to Vegas with
her grandma
and reads 5 pages of
Infinite Jest before
reading a double page spread of People
and fills her water
bottles with gin
and needs at least five
cups of coffee to get out of bed in the morning
and doesn’t mind the rain
or early nights but hates the wind.

She’s the girl
who believes the monkey statues
in her living room are cursed
and pink fairy lights
are the only acceptable kind
and that Golden Delicious
will always be superior to Pink Lady
and that there’s no point
to being sad and yet
she still finds herself
weeping alone in the toilet in Snobs.

Twice

When I was little I never believed in love, and I still don’t believe in fairytales, but I’ve heard you talk about your acid trip the same way I’ve heard you talk about hand working a stain glassed lamp to give your mom for Christmas and it amazes me that all your wonder can exist inside one perfectly wrapped version of a human being.

I beg you,
please,
make me late to work each morning because you want to cuddle for five more minutes,
hold me in your arms as I rock back and forth and you wipe away the tears I thought I knew,
kiss me slowly when you’re in a rush, and quickly and often when you’re not,
wake me up in the middle of the night when you crawl into bed late to tell me about your day,
complain about making me tea, even though we both know you’re going to do it anyway,
sit and let me run a comb through your tangled hair and purr,
look through my eyes and right into me, and stay there just a little longer each time so
that I will never forget the feeling of the sight of you.

To the 52%

I get it. You won.
People need to respect democracy and just get the fuck over it already.
I’m sorry, it must be so hard for you.
Just fuck off.
Say goodbye to the 43 facebook friends you deleted
and goodbye to cheap flights to Benidorm this October
but you’re not bothered though are you?
You listened to the man with the big red bus
and feel justified in your fuck up
and we’re stronger on our own
and it’s got nothing to do with racism,
heck you have black friends,
and your neighbours are from India,
and you send them Christmas cards each year.
We just needed to grow a pair of fucking balls already
and stop letting people mooch of our generosity
and take care of our own,
and we weren’t around in the 60s so how could we know,
it all went to shit after Mags,
but you’ll be ok,
you can still retire when you’re 64 but I’ll be working to the grave to make up for
your mistakes.
And I know some of you aren’t wrinkled and cranky but who gives a shit
you may as well be
and I’m sorry, I know I said
I wouldn’t get angry but you
cunts
took away my identity –
fuck.
I try to care but mostly, like you,
I only give a shit about myself the myself that I can no longer be
you stole her away from me and you had no fucking rights
to do that, you tore me apart,
I don’t give a shit if you thought it’d better us,
you’d be better off,
I’m half of who I was, who I was born into,
now and it’s all because of you,
you’re wankers
the lot of you,
so fuck off.
Fuck off to the lot of you,
fuck off to the 52.

To the 52%.


Hello again, Kindereggs

Goodbye David.
Goodbye Alan.
Goodbye Terry.
Goodbye George.
Goodbye Victoria.
Goodbye David.
Goodbye Prince.
Goodbye Muhammad.
Goodbye Jo.
Goodbye David.
Goodbye France.
Goodbye Greece.
Goodbye Scotland.
Goodbye Nicola.
Goodbye Paul.
Goodbye Mel.
Goodbye Sue.
Goodbye Michelle.
Goodbye Boston.
Goodbye friends.
Goodbye sisters.
Goodbye my love.
Goodbye country that was mine for a while.
Goodbye country I must return to.
Goodbye. Goodbye.


Thrice

When I was little I never believed in love, and I still don’t believe in fairytales, but I’ve heard you talk about your acid trip the same way I’ve heard you talk about hand working a stain glassed lamp to give your mom for Christmas and it amazes me that all your wonder can exist inside one perfectly wrapped version of a human being.

I beg you,
please,

make me late to work each morning because you want to cuddle for five more minutes,
hold me in your arms as I rock back and forth and you wipe away the tears I thought I knew,
kiss me slowly when you’re in a rush, and quickly and often when you’re not,
wake me up in the middle of the night when you crawl into bed late to tell me about your day,
complain about making me tea, even though we both know you’re going to do it anyway,
sit and let me run a comb through your tangled hair and purr,
look through my eyes and right into me, and stay there just a little longer each time so
that I will never forget the feeling of the sight of you.

And I know that falling in love is just an invention of medieval court life but clearly no jester or
handmaiden could ever have imagined a love as overwhelming as the kind of love I have for you.

Sometimes I wonder how you could ever stay,
how love could ever happen,
convince myself it can’t be real.
So I take a breath,
open my eyes,
and still, you stay.


Too Foreign For Home

after all,
nationalism is loyalty,
so go on!
plunge the knife into her gun wound,
because that is the British way.

 

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