I really like my nipples.

Poem

I really like my nipples.
They’re kind of parallel.
The man who delivered the pizza last night
Said he liked them as well.

I stare at them in the mirror
For hours and hours in end
Singing, look at them there
All nipply nipply ever so tripply
Skippitty dippity doo
Which is how I got banned
From Primark.

The distance between
Male nipples
Equates to the size of their you know what
Equates to the size of their you know what
Dean used to say to me,
Boy, yours are so close
They’re making me cross eyed.

Crumbs from my crusty cheese roll
Get flaked in the forest of my chest hair.
As I brush them off
I accidentally touch a nipple.
Oh yes, I shout,
I forgot I had those!
Hubba hubba.
It’s how I lost my job
As a primary school teacher.

The box full of penguin nipple tassels
I sent to the Antarctic
Was sadly returned unused
I just thought
They would brighten up the place.

I dipped my nipples in paint
And tried to use them to draw
A map of the London Underground.
The Swedish tourist said,
It’s ok, I’ve got a leaflet somewhere.

I call my left one ‘Wayne’.
The right one doesn’t really
Have a name
They both look the same
And what really is a shame
Is that I can’t bend down
And lick them.

Darts players have got them.
The man in the newsagents has got them.
My friend Pete says he’s got six.
The train conductor this morning said,
Show me your ticket,
And I said,
Show me your nipples
And he said
There’s only one tit on this train.

My left one is pierced.
It’s where I keep my keys.
I come and go with ease.
They jangle when I sneeze.

He asked me out!
He asked me out!
The man of my dreams
Asked me out!
I put my hand down my tshirt
And had a good fondle and thought
You know what?
I don’t really need him.
Lol.

A progress report on In the Glare of the Neon Yak and how it’s going.

Or, ‘On being a submarine commander.’

Not long ago I watched a TV documentary about the making of the sitcom Seinfeld, during which Jerry Seinfeld, who was writing, producing and starring in the show, said that a season of it was like being a ‘submarine commander’, in that everything else became excluded from his life and he just concentrated on the show for months on end. It was an interesting description, and I’m starting to see what he means with my new one hour show, In the Glare of the Neon Yak.

I started writing it a few days after returning from the Edinburgh fringe last year. I came up with the title first, and then I bought a circus ringmaster costume, and I tried to think of a way of combining the two. In October I had a week off from work and I sat down and wrote the whole show in five days. This surprised even me, but I was really happy with the outcome and eager to get started on rehearsing it. However, at the time I was still working on Juicy, as it had a couple of dates left.

At the end of the year I did something either brave, or stupid. I reduced the number of hours I do in my day job, in retail management. This meant there was less money coming in, of course, but it also meant I had more time to spend on Yak, and making a career out of spoken word. Little did I know that the show was about to take over my life.

Now, it must be admitted that I have always had trouble learning anything from memory. Previous to the end of the year, I couldn’t even memorise a simple three minute poem. I was asked to appear at a theatre event in Hackney and they stipulated that I had to perform a five minute poem from memory. I set about learning it and, I must say, did a damn fine job doing so. This gave me the confidence to learn something slightly longer. So what did I do? I decided to learn the whole hour show from memory!

So since the end of January, when I did my last performance of Juicy, I have been solidly lining the script for Yak. I do it every day. I do it before work, and after work. I do it on my day off, I do it at the gym while on the exercise bike, and in the sauna. I do it whenever I’m on the bus, the train, or just walking. The whole show has been completely taking up my mind all the time except for when I’m at work. And when I’m not memorising the play, I’m designing the poster, dealing with photographers for the poster, speaking to venues, filling in fringe application forms, writing blurbs, buying props and costumes, rewriting sections, working on the backing music, it really is neverending. When it snowed and I got snowed in while visiting my parents, I rehearsed while looking out the window at the snow falling. When my work colleagues left and I was alone, I rehearsed in the store room of the shop. Every spare moment has been spent on the show.

Has my normal spoken word work suffered? Possibly. I have still been writing, but not rehearsing new material with quite the same zest. I’m still promoting two spoken word nights. I’m doing feature sets around the country.

Soon I’ll be working with a director for the next couple of months. It’s an exciting chance to get someone else involved and I’m looking forward to hearing what she thinks. She’s very enthusiastic about the project.

So now I know exactly what Jerry Seinfeld meant. Today, for example, I rehearsed for an hour, got the train to work while running over lines in my head, then again at lunch time, then on the train home. This evening I’ve been working on publicity material for the show, and prewriting some Tweets for a venue.

I’m having an amazing time, and I can’t wait for people to see what I’ve been up to. It’s a departure from my normal style. According to my diary, however, my first free week off from Yak will be in early September. And that’s when the submarine will be docking for the next time!

The lad on the bus watching porn on his phone. A true story.

Poem

The lad on the bus watched porn on his phone.
He thought he was alone.
He was probably going home.
Sitting at the front upstairs on a midnight bus
Between sleepy Devon villages, he’s
Not realised I’m sitting there,
Four rows back, trying not to look.

His phone screen lights his little corner,
The attended windows reflecting on two sides
Lots of limbs and flesh and to be honest
I really can’t tell what’s happening and I’m
Trying to distract myself by memorising a
Pam Ayres poem.

He’s wearing a hoodie with the hood up and a
Baseball cap and a thick coat and trackie bottoms
And the poor lad must be hot under all those layers,
Unlike the man and the woman on his phone who
Aren’t really wearing much at all, though even I
Can tell that she’s faking it,
And the man for some reason is wearing a
Deliveroo cyclists uniform and one of those big boxes.
Straight people are weird.

The bus seat head eats form a valley of
Stagecoach orange plastic at the end of which
His quivering mobile held in landscape mode
Acts like a cinema screen at a drive-in.
I ask myself, what would Pam Ayres do?
She’d wonder what kind of plan he was on.
Some of these videos use up a lot of mobile data.
Apparently.

I try not to make a sound.
The 5p carrier bag from Poundstretcher is going
To get me in all sorts of trouble.
I kind of shift down in my seat a little bit.
Part of me is jealous, not only for the impetuosity of youth,
The readily available content and
His healthy spirit of sexual experimentation,
But also because he managed to grab
The seat right at the very front.

Hoodie boy lowers his hood.
He’s got a tattoo behind his ear in Chinese script
Which I momentarily mistake for the Lidls corporate logo.
The bus slows for a stop in a nowhere town,
He puts down his phone and cups his hands against the window,
Sighs deeply, as if suddenly conscious of
All the pain in the world, ennui, inconsequentialities,
The finite nature of human existence, environmental disaster,
The meaningless of life itself, and all the wrongs
Of society.
Seeing my reflection, he jumps, then says,
I hope this bus gets home quickly,
There’s . . . Something I need to do.

An poem about Paignton.

I wrote this a while ago. It’s about the town where I live. It’s a strange little place.

Poem

Take a walk with me a while
Amid the gleaming downtown edifices of
This Devonian utopia,
The night pounding rhythms of
Bawdy talk and seagull squawk,
How could any soul not submit?
The Neon shining brightly nightly
Brash words info the ether,
Amusements
Amusements
Amusements
Soup of the day,
Have you paid and displayed?
The all day breakfast
Is only served till midday.
Hushed tones hint at pride,
Just a whisper of this town’s name
Instills a quiet awe,
Oh, Paignton.

Here did philosophers dream
And hold their sway
The jewel of Torbay
Hellegevoetsluis Way
Big bands and jazz hands
A smile, a laugh
A night on the town
A punch in the schnozz at Winstons,
Oh, Paignton.

Verily did I dream of this and that,
A kiss me quick hat
And shops selling tat
Groovy nightclubs and movie scenes
The beautiful, the obscene,
Twirl me across the dance floor once more!
And then honking up in a taxi,
Oh, Paignton.

Dreaming big and living large,
Life in all its grace sublime,
It’s skyline replete with
Architectural wonder, Edwardian villas,
The stylised Victorian pier,
How just a glimpse causes my heart
To thump and jive with
A sultry palpitation,
Garfield Road car park and the bus station,
Oh, Paignton.

Wordsmiths and poets feint at its beauty,
Wordsworth was said to have cried
At its sheer sublimity
My mother also looked at it and cried
But that was for entirely different reasons,
Oh, Paignton.

This city of dreams,
This glitch in time,
Peak mugging hours are four till nine,
Many a hapless soul has gazed
Upon the sleek facade of the
Poundland Building and felt
The mundanity of their existence
Shouting out to the world as if
Declaiming their faith,
How worthless am I,
How worthless am I,
Oh, Paignton.

My friend Jim lives here
And gets an orgasm every time he sees the town,
He mostly keeps his curtains closed,
Oh, Paignton.

The famous names,
Personalities of merit and celebration,
How many names
Come from this mighty conurbation,
Household names like Sue Barker
And . . . .
Oh, Paignton.

The fizz
The rhythms
The heat
That metropolitan burn
That inner city beat
Dancing like lovers on the prom in the rain
Fighting off a seagull for a battered sausage
Gasping in wonder at the towers so chic
Stocking up on novelty gift farting gnomes
The romance of Lidls Neon reflected on wet paving slab
Romantic Latin music and a snog in Crossways
This sensual town
This gleaming barnacle
This paradise dank
This magical place
Oh, oh, oh!
Paignton.

There are too many poets called Tom.

And here’s a poem about one, or possibly all of them!

Poem (Tom)

Chisel-chinned trendy wordsmith
All teeth and tan and hair
That looks like it could be easily quiffable
So young and clean he’s probably easily sniffable
Thou hipster Ginsberg with a
Conscience so hot it can
Warm the coldest day with the
Fires of righteousness,
Whose words ooze sensibility,
How pained his outlook, this
Zeitgeist-bending Twitter-trending
Hot young thing, this
New kid on the writer’s block, this
Prototype Byron with exuberant facial expressions
This slam-winning rhyme-spinning nonchalant
Thin thin slip of a lad with a gob that spews
Perfect indignation in just the right amounts
With controlled anger
And lots of dramatic

Pauses.

Oh god, I wish he was me.

I wish I could be him, I wish me and him
We’re mutually interchangeable,
He’s so brilliant, like the brightest object
In the known galaxy, a supernova,
A thousand fires of phosphorus force
Brilliant at what he does,
Brilliant at capturing souls
Brilliant at poetry
I bet he’s brilliant at everything
I bet he’s never lost a game of Buckaroo.

He’s brilliant and sexy and worthy and oh so right
And sexy and coolly infused into the very now
And sexy and young with the most perfect skin
That he should merely stand at the mic and open
His mouth and utter two syllables for me to become as blustered
As a Victorian gentleman whose just
Caught his first glimpse of ankle.

And I want to speak to him, I want to commune with him,
I want to tell him: good stuff, man,
You’ve opened my mind to new possibilities
And then trampled on it with your youthfulness,
In your trendy converse all stars with no socks,
As you lift the night completely to the very pinnacle
Of absolute truth
And by turns reminded me that my own youthfulness
Is now as relevant and erroneous
As turning up at an otter convention
With a stoat.

Oh, this slippy hippy snake-like lad,
All very subtle and very emotey
If you didn’t know any better
You’d think him a bit scrotey,
So slight and wild in the night,
Afire with the rhythms of poets past,
I want to speak to him
Whisper so subtly into his ear,
Blow me,
Blow me away with your words.
I love your body
I love your body
I love you body
Of work.

And at the break, people are talking,
Eulogising, rhapsodising
And it’s all about him, oh,
For he’s so intense and righteous and theatrical
And oh,
He’s so vibrant and ravishing and clever
And oh,
He’s so visionary and brash and emotional
And oh,
Not only that but he’s got the kind of forearms
That could easily operate a butter churn with
Hardly any trouble at all,
(This gig being in an arts centre in Dorset,
Where butter churns are obviously still a thing).

I follow him,
Through this crowd of admirers and acolytes
Tiptoeing on the periphery
Of a youthful mini mob
Suddenly aware that I’m the only one there
Who remembers the millennium
Or tamagotchis
Or the 1984 Olympics,

He makes a break for the bogs,
And now we’re at neighbouring urinals,
The Fluorescent tubes of this magical wazza
Gently caressing the soft hairs of his delicate chin,
His eyes scanning the blank tiled wall,
His sensitive nostrils
Taking in the pungent earthy aromas
In a venue where the Patrons are mostly
Vegetarian and as such
Relish the most intriguing bowel movements.
(As for myself, I’ve never
Had much of a sense of hummus).

His eyes almost feral and yet
With deep intelligence
As he concentrates in the matter at hand
With the same kind of intensity
He demonstrates at the Mic,
His pee stream strong,
And healthy, and forceful,
It sounds like the Trevi Fountain
And certainly just as aesthetically pleasing.
He doesn’t even fart.
Is there anything
He’s not good at?

And I want to tell him
That I loved his poems.
All of his poems.
His poem about oxygen
Was such a breath of fresh air,
His poem about raspberries
Was surprisingly bitter,
His poem about the Mona Lisa
Was a masterpiece,
His poem about the perfect serve in tennis,
I couldn’t fault it,
His poem about being woken by the smoke alarm,
Such an eye opener,
And I want to tell him
That I got the joke he put in
About de ja vue,
Even though I’d heard it before

And I want to tell him
That he’s changed the way I look at the world.
And I want to tell him
That he speaks with a clarity of conscience so concise
He makes the Dalai Lama look like a mardy
Self-centred premiership footballer,
And I want to tell him
That his voice is so silky smooth,
Listening to him is just like
Nuzzling a mallard
And I want to tell him
That I’d pay him thirty quid and a packet of Frazzles
For just a very brief snog
And I want to tell him
That his skinny jeans really
Leave nothing to the imagination.

And I want to tell him
That his work evokes such feelings within,
Destiny and timelessness,
The sheer manic dance of life,
Magic in the mundane,
A pounding euphoric oneness
That weaves us all into that
Inescapable yet brilliant tapestry of life,
This is what I want to tell him,
But instead I stare at his nob.

We wash our hands at the sink
And as I wait for the hand dryer
Which has all the power of
A gnats fart,
I say

Hey, good set,
And he says,
Cheers

On a diet again. (Poem influenced by West End Girls)

Poem

Sometimes you’re better off in bed
There’s a grape in your hand
You wish it was a cake
You think you’re sad
Totally incapable,
The nutrition guidelines and the calorie table
In a restaurant
When you’re on a diet
Call the police there might be a riot
Running down
To the shops
To get a Daim bar
When you’re on a diet.

(On a diet again
It’s such a shame.
You try real hard
But you weigh the same.

On a diet again
It’s a pain in the bum.
You put on two stone
If you eat a crumb.

Eat a crumb).

Too many mars bars
Wispas and whole nuts
Kit Kat’s on posters
Too many doughnuts
Iced
Glazed
Jam
Plain
Which type
Shall I claim?
If you got to count calories
If so how often
Which do you choose
The diet or light option?

How much shall I eat?

(On a diet again
It’s such a drag.
The two stone you lost
Have all come back.

On a diet once more
You’re really glum.
You’d love a hot dog
But you eat a plumb.

Eat a plumb).

You weigh yourself
You’ve lost an eighth of a stone
Just you wait
Till I get this cake home
You’ve got no lettuce
You’ve got no dressing
Lost nothing today
It’s so depressing
For every meal time
Drinks and cocktails
From the drive through McDonald’s
To the weight watchers scales.

(On a diet again
It’s a dead end chore.
I have one portion
Then I have one more.

On a diet again
Let’s just give up
I won’t find happiness
In a slim fast cup.

I just give up.
I just give up.)