The Dummy Thing


My rundown wife interrupts this poem to ask

if we are watching the film tonight and I growl

Can't you see I am writing a fucking poem? Jesus!

and she says SORRY and I ask how I'm supposed

to write about my gambling addiction if she's going

to make me feel guilty about a stupid film as well

and she wails like a little girl I SAID I'M SORRY!

and runs into the bedroom slamming the door

waking our baby daughter after we've just spent

an hour trying to get her to sleep and I sit here on fire

wondering if I should be the one to get up and do

the dummy thing or if my wife is going to get up

and do the dummy thing or will she sulk for a while

waiting for me to apologise for being such a bastard

but then she drifts out of the cold bedroom

soothes our daughter back to sleep and creeps into

the living room to haunt me beside my writing desk

as I spit a lump of Nicotine gum into the dust beneath

my desk lamp and begin with that crazy old bitch

on the next machine rubbing the screen begging

for sevens as a bright blue slot sucks our money away

and the arcade manager brings me crap coffee in a dirty

white mug and ten pounds worth of brass loyalty tokens.  








I do my praying in bathrooms, a (clean)(dirty) white place. My beard is itchy. 

Repeating the names of people who keep me alive regulates my breathing.  

Kneeling on a damp rug, forehead balanced on the edge of the sink,

taps running like childish fear; please: it's colder now and I need to know.

Nicotine gum under my tongue is the science teacher who hated me.

Friction burns around my dick, a rash of worn out fantasies.

Angry at myself for being angry is a word I can't pronounce. What's the point

in asking God to keep my reckless friend alive if, after discharging herself

from hospital, she's going to drink red wine on top of the medication?

A green leaflet in the waiting room tells me, "Take a moment every day

to admire the beauty around you.'' and there's a picture of an old couple

on a park bench smiling up at a tree. The junkie opposite us butters

the knees of his tracksuit bottoms with his slimy fingers. A bleeding girl burps.

What is this life and how are we supposed to fit it onto the bookshelf?

Our doctor calls us in and, shivering under photos of his perfect family,

my wife plugs her guitar into my belly button as I do the Howlin' Wolf.








His voice, a burning cigarette

lost in their bed sheets.                                                                                           


He turns her name into a Ferris wheel.


My dreams are full of sex.

In my dreams I'll fuck anyone.

People with skin like plastic bags

washed up on Blackpool beach.


Eyes that remind me to brush my teeth.


You get the picture.


But my friend, in the back of the car

whispering Paris to his girlfriend,

he's cool as a dealer's heart and will never know,


will never, never, never

be me and that's what I was thinking while

everybody else discussed their favourite novel,


bright lights unravelling country lanes

and fog ahead of us all the way.








Dreamed I was the unhinged

surgeon huffing laughing gas.


That horrible bastard cold

on my table in the basement,

fluorescent light flickering.


A party upstairs.

Clink of glasses. Laughter.


A row of shiny sharp things singing to me.   


His heart looked like 100 cigarette butts

stapled to a Gremlin.


WARNING! Flammable blood.


Sewer scum brain

scooped out and slam-dunked

into a bin full of half-eaten Big Macs.


Other organs (fed to wild cats out back)

replaced with vampire bats. 


Face cut off and glued to a football.

Eyes and tongue for Cheech the lab dog.


Stuffed the skull with pictures of Jesus

and letters you wrote begging for his addictions to disappear

like a rival gangster or phantom pregnancy.


I woke up sweaty

and went for a piss in a daze, 

my therapist's mantra with a splash of cold water

to bring me home.


Then I put myself back together

and dropped a kiss on you

before the light came.






Poetry Girl


If you could rise from a pile of grave dirt

by my side of the bed


and get mixed up in my pubes


it would keep me from obsessively touching

the wound on our hallway Christ. 


I'm sick of closing doors

with my left foot and turning around

three times because I'm crazy


and it's been too long since

the blood rollercoaster


exhilarated me.



       Bobby Parker 2011