We are the one a.m. ruminators
notepads nestle next to night lights.
We are the stranded commuters
left behind with our baggage.
We are the happy hour irregulars
drowning our dreams together.
We are the broken clock watchers
more often wrong than right.
We are Marmite
spreading love and hate equally.
We are the lurkers in digital domains
searching for virtual acceptance.
We are the eternal worriers
picking at the scabs of our doubts.
We are the shattered enigmas
unable to find our missing piece.
We are stigmata bearers
scratch marks adorn hands and wrists.
We are the sum of our scars
memories multiply then divide us.
We are the broken puppets
use us with no strings attached.
We are the medicated masses
numb as our world falls apart.
Taken from my new book Irritable Vowel Syndrome available on Amazon UK here
or Amazon USA here
I’d bought a tin of baked beans, Heinz, the good ones.
In later years when Mom went on an experimental cooking streak
they would be replaced with a bag of pasta shapes,
but this year as it was last year I’d bought baked beans.
I lined up in the assembly hall with the rest of my class
and when I got to the front avoided the Headmasters eye,
trying instead to shove my beans to the back of the harvest display.
Cag-handed I knocked over Jason Spruce’s harvest basket
– an immense donation, rumour had it his mom hand made the basket –
Anyway his home grown apples bounced wildly across the floor
and his packet of Alpen split wide open.
The harvest festival was briefly delayed as the caretaker
threw down some chemical sawdust,
– the kind he usually saved for when kids had been sick –
and set to work with his trusty mop and bucket.
As I sat shame faced I could feel Jason Spruce and his family’s eyes
burn into the back of my neck I noticed the harvest display
was full of tins of baked beans.
A proud green tinned army, some dented
victims of playground fights some with
faded labels where they had been found at the back of dark cupboards.
There were baked beans and plenty of them,
plus in support a scattering of spaghetti hoops.
When we filed out to go back to class an old lady
from the home the school supported whispered to me.
“We all hate Alpen and those apples are always sour.
We like the beans though, especially on toast.”
I wanted to smile but as inevitable as the dark nights
that were drawing in a fight was coming with Jason Spruce
and I needed to keep my wits about me.
Like a blind man in a minefield
I make my way through life.
Each step a risk yet
afraid to stop and
unable to go back I press on.
Determined that some part of me
will reach the end.
Love is like a fresh cup of coffee,
even though it burns you hold tight.
Its sharpness jolts
yet you still want more
before it turns cold.
Love is like a foreign language
in which everyone is fluent except you
and in spite of all your efforts,
you constantly struggle
to be understood.
Love is like the end of the world,
you panic, you want to hide
but you don’t want to die alone.
So you run out on to the street and scream,
“I’m ready for this.”
We always met at the hippo
it’s a local tradition that we adopted.
Sitting by Walsall’s concrete enigma
sharing our chips with greedy pigeons
chugging MD 20/20 down,
as the town ebbed and flowed around us
like the drift of flotsam on the canal.
Then chips finished, paper and
bottles were shoved in overflowing bins.
We’d flick away the stubs of Marlboro lights
stagger off to indie disco nights,
saying to the hippo.
“See you again soon.”
But as the years danced by we
just stopped returning, as
joints stiffened like concrete and
hair became striped with hippo grey.
We swapped wooden benches for an IKEA sofa,
chips are now delivered, along with
craft beer bought by the ASDA delivery man.
but so did the hippo.
You see that hippo
that carefree hippo of the people
also grew up.
I passed him the other day
outside the library,
perhaps he’s turned intellectual ?
Anyway, I asked him why
he turned his back on the people who loved him.
He’s still thinking
about his answer.
yes my home town does have a statue of a hippo just like in the picture and for many years it was always a popular place to meet.
When My mom bought me home from hospital
all ten and a half pounds of me – pride of the ward
I was paraded for the neighbours.~
My mom remembers that
as I sucked my foot Pauline from number 14
took one look at me and said.
“He looks soft in the head
I think he’s puddled,
no, no he’s yampy.”
And just like that an old phrase
was fitted round a young boy
who started to grow into it.
“He’s Yampy.” My neighbours said about me when I was young,
as I rode my Grifter bicycle no-handed past their shocked faces,
laughing as I crashed into their beloved shrubs.
“He’s Yampy.” They whispered from behind their windows
as I walked to school,
laces untied, shirt hanging out, head in the clouds.
Teachers echoed these taunts.
“Could do better, must try harder, slacker.”
I didn’t care as I couldn’t change
as yampy was encoded into my DNA.
Fast forward I grew up – a bit – and discovered beer.
“He’s Yampy after a few.” They said in my local.
“He’s Yampy before he’s walked in the door.” Was the reply.
Fag in my gob, pint in my hand I joined in the laughter.
When I met my wife she used to laugh at my bad memory
“Come on you yampy bugger ,” she’d say.
“Why can’t you remember my favourite drink?
Why can’t you remember when my birthday is?
Why can’t you remember your own poems?”
It’s true us yampys do have memory problems,
our brains are like attics
stuffed with junk that we think one day might
come in useful again.
Then when we want to remember something we
struggle to find it,
often forgetting why we wanted it in the first place.
When my daughter was born people said,
thinking they were out of my earshot.
“I hope she takes after her mom.”
I ignored them as I cradled my new born, writing a poem about her in my head.
Poetry I know, I was as surprised as you.
But us yampys are drawn to poetry like
a seagull is drawn to chips.
Snatching ideas and words, squawking them back out
cackling like the bird brains we are.
Poetry was one of the many plasters I applied to my brain,
I tried drugs legal and not but
being yampy cannot be cured only
lulled into drowsiness until
it snaps awake at 12 am demanding your attention,
like a pet dog demands an urgent midnight piss.
Recently I thought about burning all my old school reports,
then I thought about burning all my old school photos,
then I thought about burning all the mementoes of my teenage years.
But I didn’t think about burning my bridges
I’m yampy not stupid.
Yampy is a local term where I live to describe someone who is daft or losing the plot.
Quick plug this poem features in my latest poetry collection A Pigeon among the cats.
The UK version can be found here, paperback or Kindle
The US version can be found here, paperback or Kindle
And you know as sure as hell that your
black dog ain’t gonna let you be.
Howling outside your window
scratching at the door
impatient to be let in.
That hound can smell fear,
it’s drawn to it.
So let it in, let it come close,
then slap the lead on it.
If that black dog’s gonna follow me
the least it can do, is learn to
walk to heel.
Happy New year Poetry
It’s not been a bad twelve months has it?
Remember how it began when
I updated my Facebook status to
Richard Archer is
in a relationship with Poetry.
We we’re inseparable
pub, cinema, bus, work, everywhere.
People stared, some smiled,
“This can’t last, he’s embarrassing himself,
remember last year.”
I’d heard it all before so
didn’t pay much attention as
I’d taken you to the pub to meet my mates,
who grinned, raised a pint and told us
how pleased they were that we were back together.
Yes back together.
Because poetry for me and you it wasn’t
always rhythm and rapture and rhyme and romance.
We’ve spent more time apart than together.
Times when I’d often jolt awake
reaching for you, not realising you’d gone
until I’d shaken the dreams from my head.
Then for the rest of the day I wouldn’t
be able to focus, wondering what
you were doing or who you were with.
Because you left me without a word,
so I took all we had made together
and burnt it.
While telling myself
Then I won’t forget when I woke up
the next day, I found
you curled around me
and you looked up at me
smiled and placed a pen in my hand.
It was just like we had never been apart
as we started all over again.
Monday hits you with the force of a runaway train,
Tuesday you get up only to be crushed back down again,
Wednesday starts quietly then sneakily stabs you in the back,
Thursday feels like a full-blown heart attack,
Friday you crawl towards the light at the tunnels end,
Saturday you let your broken brain try to mend,
Sunday you brace yourself for it to start all over again.
I met a homeless man while I walked home through town last week,
I listened while he told me of his daily struggle to survive on the street.
I heard how he lost his job, his house, his family and his dignity,
Now he’s just one more lost soul in this soulless city.
He said he didn’t know any easy fix or change this country could try,
And as I parted company with him I realised that neither did I.