Uganda and Her Mouthful of Dust
I am wrapping Christmas presents
in pretty pink and gold paper,
like the plastic surgeon
I fold old skins from last year’s leftovers,
smooth my hands over creases,
trim off the excess fat
to stitch with vines
of cellotape taut to my shelf.
Over my shoulder
a girl’s lips and ears are missing,
hacked off by a boy of 12.
She looks unfinished,
not deformed or inhuman,
unreadable but for her eyes
big and brown,
her lashes erect
write words her mouth now cannot say.
If I could I’d sprout her lips with texture,
a kiwi’s skin, a feather,
coax them back with a peach’s fur,
or a kiss maybe
to dress them up in a pout of wild colour.
But I wrap boxes here, useless,
separated by pixels, a million miles of skin,
her eyes frozen in Uganda’s civil war,
she queues for a plastic surgeon
with a mouthful of dust.
Tide your Puberty
I hid my body in the back,
between the gutted skin of a coat,
under the oversized white shirt
that curled at my knees: ‘You’ll grow.’
Behind the shadows of gym doors.
Others watered their bud aloud,
proud to display patchwork secrets,
nervous hands cupping their age –
the ‘Queer!’ in a caught eye,
the sharp slap of a wet towel,
the chase with an erect penis.
Behind nature’s timetable,
I’d hide from those eyes.
Cower invisible in corners,
quiet in rehearsed dress,
muddy knees in trousers noisy in smell,
the stains from deodorant
sliding off sweat.
Sometimes the slow were culled,
the ones who couldn’t shield their
bald bodies with practice,
pathetic shapes discovered,
then stripped of their cotton blindness –
pulled into showers to view
To understand why we knelt at night,
to wake with hair beneath our arms.
I Think I'm a Father
Leave in womb for 8 ½ months
at gas mark seven and remove.
Wrap in towel, add pink bow with
a twist of talcum powder and
serve with constant screaming and shitty nappies.
You are screaming as I’m writing this.
Eyes search like twin lighthouses
gunning for attention, lighting a
face full of odd numbers -
a pencil sharpener for a nose.
A fat undercooked puff pastry head,
dried in a light mane of cobwebs
a big hole for a mouth cut so endless,
only an idiot may fill.
Kicking in panic a fallen ladybird,
a bee I must have just pulled the wings off.
And why don’t you smile at me?
For you smile for my lover, your mother, your brother.
I talked of names when you were still dressed in lover’s womb,
still plugged in via umbilical cord,
but not one resembles your genderless bag of red blood cells.
You love the mother.
She can bring you happiness from her swollen B-cup that
no bottle bond can replicate.
She can clone more of you if I pass tomorrow,
I can’t if she hangs next week.
Even the toys get your smile!
Mr Bear can be your father.
I’ll bring him the adoption papers.
Six-pound skin wrapped microphone!
I click my fingers but no response.
I tell my lover you must have aspergers, a
dollop of autism or the obese midwife dropped you on
your fat head at birth.
Lover says it will pass.
The walkie-talkies hiss and spit steering me
unconscious in a drunken night train.
Even when they don’t we check
to ensure no cot death.
This cot laced with low flying suicide aeroplanes
and dream catchers of barbwire that trap you like a
prisoner of war porcelain doll,
scared to kiss as you might fracture and drown.
I’m a clumsy fool.
Lover says you have my eyes,
well you can keep them, as they are red and sighing.
Lover says you have her lips and if so,
‘bastard’ will be your first word.
To wrap you up in
cotton wool would be to kill
too many good sheep