Category Archives: Spoken Word

Sockedelia

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For Christmas (ages ago now, I know), I received no less than 25 pairs of socks. Many of them came in wonderful, colourful designs. This poem was inspired by some particularly mind-boggling socks. It’s also inspired by the fact that drugs are, basically, a waste of time. I want to clarify at this point that I’ve not actually ever taken drugs (beyond caffeine) but from what I’ve seen, I don’t think I’m missing anything.

I like to perform this with colourful socks as props which I place over my hands and use as sock puppets to deliver certain parts of the poem.

Sockedelia

I’ve never yet been persuaded
My perception could be better aided
By chemical agents

Not yet been convinced
To rinse my retinas
And see the absurd

Life is already bizarre
Far flung nations’ day to day existence
Is as alien to me as any drug induced vision
Standing up too fast when I’m tired
Inspires phenomenal out of body experiences
Besides
I carry my highs with me

My own toe twisting
Eyeball blistering
Rainbow fistula fallout

My own glimpse of inter-dimensional gyrations
Oh yes
I’m talking about wearable hallucinations

‘Cause I’ve seen shrooms
Vacuum packed into little
Individual snack sacks
Seen whacked out friends
Transported from their locked in heads
They said everything is just more UMMPH

And I’ve seen LSD
The temporary tattoo
Of hands tapping mindlessly
While eyes gaze at lights that are lighter
At colours that are colour-fuller

But I’m satisfied my eyes are well provided for
Why would I need Lucy in the Sky
When I have Susan Observing Clouds Killing Sumos?

No substances
No awakenings
No gurus please
Just allow me to demonstrate
My size 8, ambulatory, great illumination

Trigger warning: May cause flashbacks in the flower power generation

 

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Only a mild legal high this evening

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Leaving Me Is Easy

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This is certainly one of the more stupid poems I’ve written recently. This evolved from a jokey conversation with my girlfriend in which I said that the one downside of never having broken up with someone is that I’ll never fully understand Phil Collins. I asked if we could try a temporary, messy breakup. She declined.

This poem is about an obsession for understanding gone wrong. It is a spoken word interlude in my ongoing epic work ‘The Phil Collins Saga’. Other poems in this story can be found in the ‘Longer Projects’ category. I have placed links to the songs referenced in this poem at the bottom of this post.

Leaving Me Is Easy

Words

Words are little more than ordered sound
And yet, they touch

Reach deep inside
And wrench out tears
That you knew should have been shed
But never knew what you were saving them for

See words are little more than ordered sound
But so is music
And one man’s words and music
Reach deeper
Wrench harder
Rapidly dismantled
I can only whisper his name

…Phil Collins
…Phil Collins
…Phil Collins

Just a word
Little more than ordered sound
But so is music
And oh what music

I put a record on
Because I’m trendy
And the end catches the needle
So the record spins
And I am at the centre
And a song begins
And I am at the centre
And another record
Sound surrounds me
And I am at the centre
And another

Until

I’ve forgotten everything about you
Til someone says your name
…ur name …ur name …ur name
Words I know catch in my throat

These words are little more than ordered sound

Words I know but do not feel
Words I will not, cannot understand
Unknown pain
The first world problems
Of a man who’s never had a breakup
Let alone a messy one

I’ve forgotten all the reasons
I loved you
Little more than ordered sound and so
A phone call
Would you mind dumping me?
What? Why?
Just to try it
I need to know, I need to feel
I need to make these words real
Just for a while
A trial
A temporary mess
Dump me, make it bad
She says that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard

And those words? Now they hurt
They hurt bad and so
There’s no way out of this dark place
No hope, no future

Nah but really
Nobody’s that absurd
And words are little more than ordered sounds
But so is music
And they needn’t be owned to be known
And so I
Put another record on
Put another record on
Put another record on
Put another record on

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Even Phil thinks I’m an idiot

Songs:
If Leaving Me Is Easy
I’ve Forgotten Everything
No Way Out
Another Record (Genesis)

iMatter

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Without sounding like too much of a cynical, old man, I think that social media and the advent of smartphones has created an obsession with the self. People go mad over likes, retweets, and whatever other social media things call that stuff. Not only that, but it inflates people’s egos because it paints a strange picture of how much they’re appreciated and how much people value their opinion when they’re really just stuck in an enormous echo chamber!

iMatter

iAwoke to overnight notes from my enablers
A fresh fix from my Facebook feeders
Six likes and two ‘shocks’
On my Xbox live stream
And a c-lister retweet of my anti-trump grumbling

iknow when iGo out
I’m recognised
No, no, not famous
Just remembered
See my characteristic flat cap
And snap on wrist bands
Alight with neon branding
Unique look
I’m unforgettable

The girl at the till checked me out
And eyed me up as she did so
It was subtle but iKnow she did
One day I’ll ask her out
But not yet ‘cause, you know
Too busy

iWrote a paragraph
In a colleagues goodbye card
‘Cause iKnow it’s me he’ll miss
Man, he’ll say
There was this guy where iUsed to work
Just, wow

I’ve got a few youtube followers
Subscribed to my weekly drivelling diatribes
The brand is strong
And iHold the most stock

‘Cause if I’m not the main character here then who is?
And if my self-worth comes from numbers
People knowing my name, or at least my face
At the very least, my voice
Then what choice do iHave
When someone else takes the stage?

Experience has made it clear
That what iSay is well worth hearing
Besides, iWon’t be rude
Just cheekily endearing

This is it
This is mine
My moment
iDraw breath
iLook about
iShout
uSuck

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Never again have I matched the dizzying heights of 5 whole favourites on a tweet…

Octopus

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I go along to a poetry group every other Saturday where we discuss poems, get feedback, and do some writing exercises. One of our recent exercises involved picking one word from each poem that had been shared that week (not knowing what we would be doing with them) then using them all in a poem. This is the result of my attempt at this exercise. I won’t tell you which words I picked. Some will be obvious, others will not.

Octopus

An octopus lays in wait
Anxiously waiting
Nervously gesticulating in a mirror of discarded glass
Amused fish-eyes slide past outside
His own wide arms
Wing-span, diameter
Fill his cave
As he practises his lines

A disappointing pile of unflowering anemones
Decays in a corner
Were they a bit too much?
He is soaking a shrimp in vinegar
Because all the books say it’s romantic
But it’s apparent
That every inch of his near transparency
Is lost

And suddenly she’s here
So he octoposes
Flexes in octopostures
Fashioned to appear robust
But trust his luck
A bubble of air inflates his face
And she giggles

He takes in her smile
Her gentle dance
Her scuffed octoshoes
In the deep, blue light
And thinks
She’s a bit of alright

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The elusive, wall-scaling house-octopus

Perspective

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My Dad tells a very amusing story about his art teacher Mr Garrett. I’m reluctant to explain it too much in this introduction because I think the poem will summarise it quite well. Suffice to say, my dad and Mr Garrett didn’t really get on. As is becoming quite standard with my newer posts, this was written to be performed. At some point in the future, I’m going to try and make some videos of me performing poems!

Perspective

Where’s your perspective Philip?
Lacking something that should clearly be innate
Philip takes the berating again
The bulging Mr Garrett’s mantra like cry
Brings with it a beating
A bash in the belly
Philip… WHERE’S your perspective?

A London school, sometime in the Seventies
Philip – young lad – short, black hair
Departs the rooms
He and all the other guys are
None the wiser
As to what ‘perspective’ even is

Where’s your PERSPECTIVE Philip?
Another week, another art class
Another fast jab in the gut
An ever growing
Weak once, but now getting strong
Inherent sense of WRONGness

And as the classes roll by
Philip tries to forgive and forget
But as yet, repentance is not forthcoming
And his tummy turn purple with the pain and rage

And so the stage is set for vengeance
Where your perspective PHILIP?
There’s danger on the horizon
But Philip can’t see how close it’s come
Where’s your perSPECTive?

Mr Garrett turns away and bends
And here ends Philip’s patience
Rather than report this man
And face the disdain or disinterest of his elders
He will take matters into his own hands
His own…
Hand

Children squeak with alarm
As Philip winds back his arm
Which then disembarks
On a perfect arc
And end with a stark THWACK
Smacking Mr Garrett’s backside

Now…
Before he went into teaching
Mr Garrett had another name
Man Mountain

Yes, in case you haven’t guessed
He was a wrestler
Who packed it all in
To begin a career
Close to his heart
Teaching art

So, as we return to the seventies
Mr Garrett, no nonsense, ex-wrestler that he is
Turns slowly to face Philip
And, though he doesn’t know it
What Philip has now
Is perspective, of sorts
He can see everything leading up to this moment

Every criticism
Every thump
The lump in his throat grows
And he knows
That was nothing
That was nice
Compared with what is coming

Are you sorry Philip?
Philip?
Are you sorry?
PHILIP ARE YOU SORRY?
The problem is, he’s got Philip in a jaw lock
Blocking any apologies that might have been attempted

Ng sy, Ng sy
What? What did you say?
Are you sorry?
Ng sy, Ng sy

A London school, sometime in the noughties
Ben – young lad – long, black hair
Sits in another art class
None the wiser as to why his eyes
Are so hard to draw
Why the face he’s attempting to recreate
On the page before him
Comes out so misshapen
He’s taken so much care
Perfectly shading and curling the hair
But the shadows and the angles
Are mangled

Ms Evans leans over
No Ben, that’s not right
She obliterates three weeks work
With a borrowed rubber
Leaves unfased by the look of hatred
Growing on Ben’s face

Her parting words
As she turns back:
It was lacking something
You know, what’s the word I’m looking for?

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Craplo Picassno

 

 

As The Sun Dies

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This is a bit of a cynical poem to be honest. A while back, I went for a super fancy afternoon tea type thing in a posh restaurant with my girlfriend. It was pretty expensive so not the kind of thing we do very often. As we ate, drank, and chatted, I couldn’t help but notice other couples around us. In particular, I couldn’t help but notice their behaviour.

They weren’t talking to each other.

Several other couples had evidently paid a large amount of money for the same experience but, upon arriving, took out their phones and ignored each other. I was horrified by it. The view from the restaurant window (very high up, looking out over Birmingham) was stunning, the food was delicious, and the company was wonderful. Why would I want to be on my phone? But this is pretty typical these days. This poem is about people who have lost interest in real life and prefer to live through social media, texting, twoots, chapsnats, facebogs etc. It’s all part of a general turn inwards and obsession with self-advancement. Cheery stuff eh?

Also, it was written to be performed so maybe try to imagine it being said out loud. One day, I’ll get round to making some videos of my poems.

As The Sun Dies

There they sit
On the 27th floor outdoor balcony restaurant
For sandwiches and drinks
She thinks she’s picking up good vibrations

But it’s just his phone
Drrr Drrr Beep
Ping
Another text requesting he ask his date to

Wait

While he lets his friend know how it’s going

It’s good to see you she says
I know that work keeps us busy
And it’s silly to expect you
To give all your time to me
But it’s
It’s good to talk

Mmm he replies
Instagramming a ham sandwich
Minutes pass in silence

 

Drrr Drrr Beep
Ping

 

Until at last he speaks

You look beautiful
She smiles
And while he can he snaps a picture
Niftily sifts out her blemishes
And tweets it

Fact to phone
He screens her out again
Too busy painting data of the date
To live it

But she remembers the time before
The man she married
Before in sickness and in health
Became in signal and for wealth
And love took second prize
To pride and picture perfect appearances

In desperation she takes out her phone
And finds the photo he recently posted of their food
Hashtag lunch with my gorgeous girl
She comments Happy Anniversary

His phone quakes once more
Drrr Drrr Beep
Ping

His eyes flicker up momentarily
Then up again and longer now
He looks at her
As if seeing her for the first time
His gaze falls back to the phone

Hers lights up now
Oliver likes this
And as he poses for a selfie
As the sun dies on the silver skyline
He doesn’t even register her leaving the table
It’s erased by his filter

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#blessed

 

Unquiet Slumber

Unquiet Slumber

A while back, I was at my friends’ wedding. They got married in a beautiful church and had the reception in a lovely venue at the bottom of the graveyard. There was a long and winding road to this venue but the quickest route was to weave between the graves themselves, edging your way down the reasonably steep hill.

That was alright on the way down but, by the time I left, it had been raining for a very long time and it was almost completely pitch black outside. This made the hill extremely precarious and turned the graves into hidden stumbling blocks.  On my way up, I had a little accident.

Unquiet Slumber

The sleepers lay in rows and columns
Names erased by years and years
Of Heaven’s tears
That sponged the stone
Fed the moss
Till all that stood were monoliths

But even these were barely visible
As the day decayed
Five pilgrims, I among them, felt their way
Between the shades of grey and black
Below the church a wedding choir sang
Shut up and dance with me
A hymn of innocence

I clasped a card
A token
My unspoken tribute I’d present
In homage to
The 405 to West Croydon

I fell behind as we proceeded
Up the tear stained hill
Still slick
Unobserved beside me, was a grave
Let me describe it to you

At the top, the gravestone leant
Itself grown old
It’s broken skin bled water on what lay below
The plot was marked by cornerstones
Four small, square stones that showed the sides

But as yet
I was unfamiliar with these details
Blindly slipping by
Till slipping by was slipping over

I don’t know how well acquainted you are with graves
Perhaps you’ve seen your share
Or laid a flower
Perhaps you’ve sat and cried
Or bowed your head
But I feel confident that very few
Very, very few of you
Have, at speed
Felt both feet fly off the ground
Fallen, flailing frantically
Your panicked cry drowned out
By a resounding round of
Here’s to you Mrs Robinson
As you plummet
Wrenching your leg over a cornerstone
And headbutting another

I have

I came to rest
Still smartly dressed
But now rocking that slightly ‘distressed’ look
And lay in imitation
Of the man, or woman, or child
I don’t know
Who lay 6 feet below
I took a moment
To confirm I was not broken
I heard my friend cry
Ben, what’ya doin’ on the floor?

I slowly stood
An unbearable agony
Prevented me
From putting weight on my left knee
In shredded trousers, trembling
I stepped one… little… step…

And fell again
My brain was overwhelmed with input
Overloading
Over I went
A spent force physically
And then came the collision

Head to headstone
Loaf to rock
A sickening clock

And so I lay once more
As will o’ wisps went winding through my eyes
Another cry Ben mate, get up
Just audible as revellers raised hands in praise
Exclaiming I’m in love with her and I feel fine

A wet and beaten, defeated figure
Rose from the grave

Astonished glances danced from friendly faces
Ben, what the hell happened to you?

I shook the dust from my clothes
Straightened my hair
You think this is bad? I said
You should see the other guy

This chili pepper opted to be buried at sea but, you know, cut backs.

This chili pepper opted to be buried at sea but, you know, cut backs.