Laika (they watched her go and cheered)

Laika suspended in the shuttle,
barking into the boundless black
at the end of a one-way trip,
the stars closer than they’d
ever been to her backyard.

Laika in panic, Laika in the limelight,
plastered across the front pages
as a milestone for the new ages,
passing out from heat exhaustion
but championed by the New Yorker.

Estelle Taylor talked about God,
and you can tell what’s in a man’s soul
by the way he treats his Dog.
They talked about canines to sell cigarettes,
profited from the first victim of the space race.

Laika never quite weightless,
chained to the claustrophobic interior
of Sputnik Two, unable to enjoy the view,
until she was burnt up as a shooting star;
they watched her go and cheered.

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Cat Scratch

First tattoo I ever got
declares me cold.
I barely felt a thing.

Dentist asks what it means
as she presses ice to molar.
I don’t feel a thing.

She stands up slow,
tells me to rinse my mouth out.
I spit blood into the sink.

There’s a dead tooth,
an empty space –
filling didn’t do a thing.

Recommends I keep it cold
I’ve been lukewarm for a while,
knowing she could make me feel

something.

My Last Semester (Moving On)

The first tattoo I got declared me cold,
but that was before I met you,
before the outbound flight,

and now the ticket for the return leg
is beginning to fade at the edge.
I’ve been using it to bookmark pages

in the novel the pretty sales assistant
recommended in the terminal.
Chapter one was all about moving on.

The phone calls have grown shorter
and all I seem to talk about is the weather,
the women I kiss on nights out.

You talk about your last semester,
plans for the future, and the way
the Chattahoochee keeps rising.

Every weekend I walk to the river
for a smoke and a sandwich, re-read
Lunch Poems and think about you

less.
It’s getting easier,
moving on.

Just know that,
as long as our rivers meet the sea
I shall carry you with me.

As long as I am still English
and you are still American,
and we are both moving on.

Spontaneous Tweeting

Piers Morgan doesn’t like vegans, and that’s fine, because nobody likes Piers Morgan. Did you know that the President of the United States follows him on Twitter? Did you know that it’s not okay to hack somebody’s phone. Some things should be kept private, like the inside of Piers Morgan’s head. Most of the time, when I check Twitter I leave it bitter, and I think it’s partly down to following the wrong people and partly down to following anyone. There’s so much empty space just waiting to be filled. Pour bullshit over bullshit. I watched a policeman kill a kid because he couldn’t crawl properly. I watched it over breakfast, blood on the floor of a hotel corridor. Piers Morgan didn’t say anything about it, but did you know the President of the United States follows him? The same President that tweeted videos of people being pushed off buildings? Did you know the President is the only person responsible for the lack of deaths on planes in 2017? Did you know that nothing means nothing anymore? Or does everything mean everything? It becomes hard to tell when everything is digested in megabytes and is still hard to swallow. Explains this communal bad taste. Explains too much, and I’ll refresh the page in search of answers, find cat memes and death. Did you know that cat memes cure depression? Did you know that Piers Morgan doesn’t understand male depression? Did you know that that’s nonsense? It’s nothing but nonsense. My depression is conspiring with the internet against me. I’m writing this in red wine and it’s not helping. Refresh, regret, global warming is your grandmother’s myth, or your president’s, it’s “no cause for concern” and it’s John Cusack’s questionable career choices. It’s the end of the world in less than one-hundred-forty characters and it’s a trending topic.

Walking to Work

School kids smashed a bottle in the bike lane,
little bastards.

Fourth puncture in five weeks and it seems
the world wants me to walk to work.

Normally I wouldn’t mind, but
the haemorrhoids have been giving me Hell,

been force-feeding myself fibre
every day for a fortnight.

I think that’s why Bukowski drank
like everyone knows he drank.

It’s been known to me that my favourite author
was an asshole with a sore asshole,

but I still buy his books when I see them,
and wonder what kind of man that makes me.

Someone who suffers? A fan?
Hard to say.