First Week’s Wages
Anyone who’s bought property in Star Wars Monopoly
knows Bespin Palace is bought through malice to keep
Alice dramatic through the snap crackling static.
A buzzing fuzz, dye jobs and dust.
Tethered lust becomes a must to
label coke a growing pain and joke.
There’s no mental health refrain.
Just another game without shame
That big red barrel is rolling and we’re only
reloading, our adrenaline coding eroding force
feedback proof moulding. Then the plastic got gnawed
on and we started clawing through eiderdown quilts
to hang on each other.
We three legged five miles for a snout
in a hotel with an air of gout
and a three day opinion on trout.
And mercifully, a cigarette machine.
Sunday is black like Guinness.
We have exhausted the head
and smeared it down the glass
to the last. warm. inch.
Now to drop the blinds and wait the daylight.
Let’s see how many orange rinds we can half
chew and hide in a bid to survive these days
That long cold November;
red on her cheeks and blood
left in the bed.
Gibson, I’m stealing some words
I missed the black shakes when the turtlenecks
painted them white and tucked them neatly
into nifty shells for our pockets; flat ones,
thin ones, your favourite colour.
Some are even gently curved,
as though another spent years
rubbing the corners down
with a soft patch of thumb.
I remember walking with a man who broke
my heart with a pocket of shapes and secrets.
He told me the nature of stones,
how they hide in history
and lose face to others legacy.
He told me the nature of stones,
how they mulch themselves into being
with movement we never see
and he gave me some, just for my pocket
and told me never to look at them.
Your eyes will betray with thought
what blind fingers can only know.
So I close my eyes and scrape, and gouge,
and sculpt a face you could never know
in the finger filled dark.
But the world and its shells know all about pockets
full of stones now. They fill them with torchlight
and pick away the stitches with those tools with
One by one we’re left with an open flap; nerves picked open.
The only secret left there is a flash of white
and a shudder in the breeze
like salt on a split lip.
With the truth about stones
I roll my shell around the shapes love gave to me,
and skim the unknown faces out to sea.
Romantics today, dreaming their lives away,
pulling pints in a pavement-to-tile
and taking abuse for the use of a bank
holiday without having to wash a poly-cotton.
So they can fill a jagged ridge tin just shy of the top
for a square of green cream banded in
orange. Well at least the window seat's serene,
somewhere between the smell and the stain.
They can sit, shift and twist to get a view
through the mist. A steeple of steel logs
cracked with a lattice of house keys
and melanin rust. Cataracts can crash, rage, blow
and batter, but the worlds resistance is already noted,
and those condoms under their toes,
remind me of psoriasis.
Are you missing it yet
the sweet city smoke with its scum on your neck.
Maybe not, the charm
of a mountain has taken hold, like that
by wreck to bootlaces on an etching plate.
It's just the bracken and brambles
so why not ramble and sip the dandy
lion pith and piss in thorny vein patches,
smoke tobacco with matches
and barbs twisted straight.
Find a pub for a taste of the other.
Men with glasspaper elbows and
eyes that slide the wrong way as they smile
who order beer slowly. Their musk, expensive
but the perfume is cheap
slapped on women who
dance, without shoes on their feet
it's almost discreet.
They're so blunt when they meet.
Why not take the offer; listen to them
joke about the broken noses,
the chinning and the filling in
reporters in rain coats.
It’s beautiful here in spring,
that tree trunk glitters when the sun hits it
and fresh blooms hide the rope burn.
Truth you ignore
and they wish away
Fill up on pastry in the bottom of the dish
and join in with the wish that good beer
and battered fish weren't so dear
or a mission to find, go back, talk, unwind
and if there's time
Butterflies and Snails
A moth in coloured wings and waistcoat
watching snails trail Arabic gum
from his toadstool perch
counts feather boats and grandfather clocks
through a little brass porthole.
Sharing space; the family of a dead mouse
rattling ferrules in a glass jar
who in a previous life
held three hundred olives in brine
spilling salt in the weft of carpets in hotel lobbies.
A dying lily pad for the duchess, while the fairy,
turning pages with pale fingers, considers
how to dispose of the Dutch school disguise,
with frayed jeans and jumpers years from the spool.
Green with type in tasteful gold;
a bag for the cupboard, a bag for the wardrobe.
White ink clouds cast over admirals
captured in an island foxhole,
remembered on a wall mounted postcard
tacked to an emulsion rainbow
dropped into a Volvo.
A far cry from turpentine and washing lines
stretching vines, from blackberry patches
between the springs of a burnt out mattress.
The four horsemen have finished their special brew
and stubbed Wallock chewed Hamlets
for Picasso natives and wrenched stress relatives
who watch kung without the fu.
Before he put pink laces in his tigers
he learned this lesson.
Shoes carry us and in return we leave
ourselves impressed upon them.
Your average student is ignorant of this;
living in a world with stark lines between
them and footwear, between them and
a material moment.
What I could show them, in place
of fumbled rutting and rubbing
of sebum mined skin. They could
quiver in ratcheted bliss at the joining
of a well made zip, or know without
doubt that when and where is true
and only true in cobbled bespoke.
So I spread them out in semi-circle
my fresh leather to shrive back to the
last and see what light shines through.
Who is this, his soul ground away
by the image above. With every step
he grinds dirt to dust. He has considered
power and knows to hide it from my circle.
I squeezed him. I took his talent
and set it work commemorating my collection
in blush slung tribute.
For two hundred days I kept him squeezed
with a new pair every morning. Until he popped,
devoting himself to my excitement with his
brush and made a pair of boots to match
my lust. They were high heeled and depraved
from impression. I made the other students
look. I pulled them from white space
and demanded admiration for him.
But jealousy is strong and children green,
and milky. I should have seen them turn against
him. No matter.
Now he’s alone and I can impress myself upon him.
Harry Dell is a neurodivergent artist-poet. For some years, he concentrated largely on visual art but increasingly he has focussed on his poetry, both for page and performance. His recent work has appeared in journals, and he regularly gigs with autistic poet Caron Freeborn. Recently, they performed Freeborn’s long dramatic poem The Voice as a two-hander, and they intend to tour with it later in 2019