Whimpers and Bangs

“Do you want us to not be doing that?”
He’d jump to ask the nearest authority figure
soon as we started larking about or
having a laugh which gained us
a bollocking at school and earned more
work at work.

And he turned to asking it of himself, offering
out the mirror invariably in his pants, half-cut
on cut-price plonk, panicked, forcing
a sliver of a grin.
We stuck it out together though – through
more thicks than thins.

Now in the old boys’ home, he’s got perennial
shits and we all have to sit around
bearing the brunt of it while in his turn
the fella slumps with a globule
of saliva like quicksilver glistening
on his chin.

I tell him:
“You shouldn’t be going out like that,”
but he won’t listen.


(One of three poems published in Haque magazine.)