Weekend Retreat

Spent a weekend outside
Cut through fields for an

Passed some Sheep.
The lambs had names:
81, 82, 83.

They look like Lion
cubs on stilts. Their
steps apprehensive
and Jubilant.

When too close, a mum
Calls them over, stands between
While staring us down.

She’s not going to Tayyabs
but they are.
I’ll suck marrow out
The Lamb legs and wonder
What their number was.

Always Missing you

I never came to make it precious
There’s a Sun in the sky
But I’m sleepy hollow headless

didn’t know what he rode his bike
Through Camden’ towns traffic so fast for
Until she opened the door.

That was thirty odd years ago
I walked for an hour and
You’re even buffer than yourTinder photo.

I add textures to the stories of my 
Ancestors. Sunlight and flowers
Growing out of corners

Maybe the sky was grey then too.
When I grow up I’ll make a life
Out of a sliver lining too.

who needs Sunshine when I’ve got 
you smiling.
Lines so earnest even Drake would
Decline them.

What if you could have blue blue Skys
For a whole whole year,
What if you could ask for something
And just like that, it’d appear.

lips thaw in a coffee shop.
Want know the Spanish word for buff
Only language I learned in London
Is the language of nods
Find safety in a nearby customers
Arsenal scarf.
In some ways a version of home
Is never too far.

That must’ve been morning
Two hours ago
We’re at your place now
I sit on your toilet, lid down
You putting on your make up
And I’m kinda eyeing up your curves as you lean on the sink
Yes I am a perv but trust I’m still listening. 

Order bare Thai food
And fill up on deep fried tofu
Thats just the starter
Gives us time 
Who hurts us what irks us
From Morrissey to exes
And S Dot Carter.
What I never got from coke bumps
Is found in your laughter

As my index finger one letter at a time 
writes words Into your thigh
Ross Sutherland talks about
The pain of death and the joy to life
That night his work has nothing on mine.

Is this what it’s like when doves cry?
You’re so buff it makes my dick shy.
Sit on my face/ all praise to the most high

And I’m so far from this moment now
But it’s so so clear
If I close my eyes
I can imagine you so so near.
What it if you could have blue, blue skies
For a whole, whole year.
what if you asked for something
And just like that, it’d appear.
And just like that
My mind gets off track
Washing dishes 
Writing disses after getting scolded
By the world’s hottest tap.
Hate this job but I need this dosh
And when I’m unemployed my drive just stops

Working on myself isn’t the same
As working for minimum wage
But it’s hard to be good to yourself
When yourself isn’t paid.

working two jobs
You go in opposing directions
twelve hour shifts for plane tickets
It breaks your heart to see me do it
But we’re heartbroken when separated

write a slice of life
Cos I can’t afford the whole pie.But that slice is sweet
I can’t lie 

Pre-emptive talks off the ledge
I was never lower than when the one three four
Would ride under suicide bridge

fingernails impose themselves on skin
If I keep my guard this low I’m bound to be
Touched on the chin.
In another element the Defence mechanisms turn into 
destructive patterns
Hard to be rid of the past when you’re a grown up
In the same parts you grew up in.

tell you I Love you and the fingernails 
Carve up my back
You can’t say you’re off if you’ve never
Been on-track.

That must’ve been the fourth day
You reciprocate as you ride me in the morning
Family having breakfast one room away.

Maybe the Sky was grey then too
Something something something 
Always missing you 


Skim the surface
like spinning rocks
or how Jesus walks
A combination of
skills and miracles
are just enough
to keep me above.

I try to shrug off the weight
and I keep doing it to the point
where every moment of the day
is a harlem shake.

Keep the darkness away
the water down the plug hole
jokes spill out my pie hole
Watch films by Michael Bay.
Every now and then
I get to the brink
and begin to suffocate

Find strength in rap
Strength in comics
Strength in jokes.
Whatever it takes
to make you step back

I got through days
but lost pieces of me
along the way.

There's a horrible unwritten rule
that people seem to subscribe to
that becoming an adult requires
killing the child that's inside you.

we deny them their voice
The first time we pretend to like the taste of alcohol
or agree with someone telling us 
computer games are stupid
or that football is just a game.
Or when we laugh at a friend 
we once laughed with
just so we can impress other kids.

Toby came to school in red skiing boots
It didn't snow. It wasn't even cold.
He wore red skiing boots in a school
where you can get punched in the back of the head
for wearing baggy jeans.

Toby never gave a second thought about being different
I'm pretty sure he didn't think it was about being different
It was just about being him
And he saw some red skiing boots and just thought
"I'll wear them"

Gary looked at them and said- why.
I said that they're actually quite handy
because, if he clicks his heels three times
he gets to go home.

Mates laughed. I laughed.
As Toby walked past.
We made eye contact
He saw me laughing at him
for being different
and he smiled back at me
Like it was lunchtime at Beckford.

I couldn't talk to Toby for years.
All I had to say was regurgitated words 
from boys in the year above
talking about what phones we want.

To be confronted with his smile
The same smile he had at eight
-when we were best mates-
a smile that conveys only joy-

A smile so contagious
It only would've torn apart
all the hard work
I had put into trying to pretend
the child who smiled with him
didn't exist.

There was no way he could've known
but I really hope he saw me and knew
that I'd give anything to wear those boots too.

He knew a lot.
He knew exactly what type of robot to build
to beat sir Killalot
He'd align the cardboard.
I'd hold it
He'd design the plans
I'd draw angry faces.

I draw an angry face.
on a robot
during a meeting about something
I can't focus on.

I write all day
Unaware of rhyming patterns
I just write
and rhyming happens

Sometimes I play the same song
over and over and over

Sometimes I see something funny on the street
And I like it. And I put a pun on it.

Sometimes I get on a train
and cry till i get to my stop.
Get my head above.
and shake it off.

Highgate Cemetery

Go back to the bench and sit.
Talk about we’d talk about.
Updates on new games and comics.

I don’t have a heaven to give.

Just a different place to exist.

I’ve lost every bout that 
Can’t be won with a fist.

Heaven is good feelings, quick.

There’s not one religion I believe in.

But I know what it’s like to sin.

To feel a sadness that eats your heart
all I had was those chats in the park.

So I go back to the bench and sit.
Talk about what we’d talk about
Getting better and feeling shit.

Working on myself, wealth and health

on my weekends, free time and night shifts

in my funeral suit, on my relationship
through vegan food.
Through a sickness or till my skin sheds

on frothing the milk while redrafting the script

overtime in a right state for minimum wage

To postpone pain
or free up head-space.

on sleep and getting out of bed

So I go back to the bench and sit
Watch the dogs enjoy the park
Talk to a ghost and feel a weight lift.

All my softness went with him
All my vulnerabilities 
All my chances of thinking
There was a redemption 
In loving someone into becoming better

Despite all this
I still go back to the bench and sit
There must be something in it
There must be something in it.

Fortune Green Cemetery



Bingo leads us to the grave.
I look up at the angel’s face
In a silent scream of sorrow.

Bingo sniffs the angel’s toes.
The same face now cries
from the wet of a dogs nose.

A comically horrific expression
testifying to the tragedy of death.
I pull Bingo as he lifts his leg.


Dad gives me an introduction.
“This is George
Met him here a few weeks ago”

He’s enshrined; flowers,
a scarf of red and white,
And a laminated collage of
players past and present.

Dad puts his hand on my head.
Maybe to make sure I see George.
Maybe to make sure I still exist.

There’s one picture of him
And he’s in the full kit.
Smiling, muddy on the pitch.

Nineteen seventy nine-
Nineteen ninety six.
“I like to talk to him”

I look at the grave and
Wait for dad to say more
“What do you talk about?”
Three games from the title

 “I just tell him the scores”

Superman now

When I’m an off-stage marionette en-route to a venue, head-nodding in a suitcase, hair forgotten and front and centre, peripheral vision and window dressing, long as uncle’s stories (and as in need of a trim)

When someone switched my path to happiness for a treadmill facing a canvas.

When there’s a change in and ocean and an old man on a rocking chair by the beach says to himself “rains ’a comin'”

When my head is more cluttered than the Claremont X-men run and I can’t tell what universe I’ve stepped into, but it’s not the one I grew up in.

All that’s on my side is the fact I’m still in it.
A friend of mine jumped off a building, he asked me  “what’s your secret?” The only answer I had to give him was “making promises”

When I can lower the bar for feeling loved to receiving a smile from a Barista
and feeling strong to knowing I can handle myself against a man so bored
he’s driven to violence with broken pint glass
(so broken his boredom’s driven him to a pint)
(so bored by violence his pint drives him)
(so driven to his pint violence breaks boredom)

When the strings are cut and I’m limp behind the curtain, scared
I won’t get up before the show starts,
staring at his face in a crumpled t-shirt on my chair
and his frame standing in the shadows of my room
and all that stops me from searching is the sky turning pale.

These past last six months have as much light and colour as the Bendis Daredevil run and I’m sending a letter of compaint to this city’s Editor in Chief in regards to all these characters I’ve spent years in love with, subjected to such cheap plot twists.

When there’s a pinball rattling up top,
twitchy fingers waiting for the drop.
When I can’t get back across the eight foot gate
separating a park full of dog shit and playcentre

When summer was ball games
and photosynthesis and growing up had all the
drama and emotion of the 90’s X-Men cartoons where every revelation brought screams, tears and rage.

When I call Desirae and tell her that boy I love might not make it through the night and the loudest thought in my head is “don’t cry”.

When the knife was only meant to make a statement
and the drink was only meant to loosen him up
and the weed was only meant to calm him down.

When the boy turns from man to snake to boy again.
When a woman isn’t a person but a property
and free will feels like a robbery.

When the lactic acid build up shifts from the joints in my knees after a midnight run to sentences with his name and mental health buzzwords, like funerals end but eulogy’s don’t.

 (How come I’m told to talk to someone
after everytime I’ve talk to someone?)

When I was given back all the comic books I gave him
and he and didn’t touch the ones about depression
cos who’d look at pictures of brick walls while in prison.

When I did make a difference, it’s just, the scales were different.

When it’s a long-arse grind for a long-arse time and I patch myself up with a simple-arse rhyme.
When it’s not iambic pentamiter, and it doesn’t iambit pentmatterer

When the past year’s been a disappointing album that followed up the most increidble mixtape.
When Pitchfork gives the album I cried listening to a five point eight

When I look between London’s sharpest teeth, devouring all the space I could’ve found a sunset in is filled with boys on pegasus peds, caught in the sensation of flight, of speed.
Like falling, but upwards.
Like fuck ups, with benefits.
Free from gravity and every
other element that held them down its spuds all round

I’m superman now.

Last Scene: Irish

The coffee beans fall into the spinning grinder, they give a small scream as they’re ground into powder. I use this blunt instrument to flatten it as hard as I can. Put it into the coffee machine.

Two men enter, one with a cap covering his face, the other with a face that could've done with a cap covering his face. I Stop making the latte. They put their backs to the counter, start whispering to each other, shoulders touching the space below, filled with the passing of notes. Money.

The larger of the two asks for a pie and mash. “What kind of Pie?” “A meat one.” “There are ten types of pie that have meat in them” “And a beer”

I turn my back to pour the pint. The shorter of the two asks me, in an irish accent, how much I make in a year. I turn back. “I don't know. It's my first day. Haven't even seen the contract yet”

Eye contact. Eye contact.

Taller hands me a twenty, takes the place and goes to his table. Irish asks for a pie.

“No wait. I want a. No wait. I want a. I want a drink” We walk along the counter to a row of ciders. “What's good?” “They had this one at the first Glastonbury festival” “It is good?”

“It's, four pounds”

He sticks his hand across the counter, palm open. I hand him the cider. His teeth lock, bubbles rise, cap falls to the floor. Necks it. Nods. “Yeah. I'll have that” “Pie with everything plus the cider, thirteen pounds please” He puts his elbows on the counter, takes out a wad of fifties and shuffles through them, deliberates- hands me the one he doesn't mind parting with. I hold it delicately, look at how red it is, stroke-


“I've never held a fifty pound note before”

Irish leans back, as his heels touches the ground he smiles. “So you're telling me, the first person to ever give you a fifty pound note is an Irishman?”

“Well, I'm not Irish, but my name's Irish. Sean Mahoney The only time people have ever thought I was Irish was when I was boxing.” His heels leave the ground. Eyebrows raise. “Boxing?” He takes a swig of the cider- starts pacing up and down the counter- and begins an inquisition.

“Did you ever fight?” “How many fights?” “How many did you win?” “Any competitions?”
He nods to every answer, walking up and down; yeah, yeah. yeah.

He swivels on the ball of his left foot, facing me and points to a scar the stretches from his temple to forehead. “See this?” Taller shouts from his table- his pie is nearly finished. “See this?
“I got hit in the head. I got hit in the head with a pipe. That's why I can't box anymore”


“Yeah. I used to box. Can't anymore. Cos I got hit in the head. With a pipe. I was doing building work. And I got hit in the head, with a pipe. So I can't box anymore”
He slowly lowers the finger from his head like people do in films  when they're talked into lowering their gun. It’s not enough. He carries on. “You still box?” “No” “Why?”

Never in my life have I wanted a scar more than I do now. I tell him my dad kind of got me into it, that for a while it was more his thing than mine. But I did get into it and. I really loved it. More than anything.

“Did your dad used to be a boxer then?” “No. He's a, Writer”
He looks at me like I’ve stolen his cider, trying to figure out if I’m a liar. And I suddenly feel closer to the Latte side of the counter than I do the pies- I turn to the till. Fifty in hand. There are three buttons that have notes on the screen. A fiver, a tenner, and a twenty. My fingers hover over which one.

“There an issue here?” My manager pops up, takes the note from me, grabs a yellow pen, scribbles on it, puts it back on the counter, points. “This note's a fake”

Irish squints.

Manager points at the yellow scribble and says- “it’s a fake”
Irish points at the yellow scribble and says the ink is still there, so it isn't a fake
manager says because it is there- it is fake. This goes back and forth till the manager says
they don't take fifties anyway.

Irish digs into pockets, bottoms of pockets bottom pockets and bottoms of bottom pockets to put on the counter four pounds fifty in shrapnel. Short by eight pounds fifty. Irish rolls his shoulders back and the anger leaves his face as he gears himself up for another form of expression.
His mate at the back is smiling, pie finished, with arms crossed.

manager looks at Irish as if he doesn't know what the scar is for.
“The gravy is already on the pie, just eat it now and we'll deal with it later”
The vacant stare is turned on me. A stare that doesn't try to gain advantage by intimidation  but by assessing weight and shape. Eye contact. Eye contact. I hand him the plate and he sits next to his mate, who’s laughing.

Manager says I should really watch out and that we don't take fifties when they're fifties from people who don't look like they should be having fifties. Plus there's an estate down the road so, you know. Use your judgement.

I keep my eye on Irish while I'm being talked to. I ask the if the fifty is fake. Manager says  “yes” followed by, “probably”

Manager leaves .I try again on the latte. Froth then repeat. Froth then repeat Froth then repeat.Turn the steam knob off. Take the metal jug and bang, swivel, bang, swivel. make the milk look like silk and pour pour pour and it's shit. pour it down the sink.

I look up, Irish and his friend have gone. Pies eaten, half a pint of the cider still on the table. It's dark blue outside. the time between after sunset and lampposts turning on, the time of night I'd be on my way to boxing. Throwing punches now feels alien.

I have to shadow box in my room just to remind myself I used to do it. That I did it. Every day. But on the days I make shitty Latte’s those days can feel so far away.

Manager enters, looks at the plates.Nods. Looks at me. And then (raises his arms) with a “typical” face. and then his face changes.

Irish stands at the entrance. Walks towards the manager. Manager is frozen. Irish takes the bottle, swigs it in front of him, walks to the counter. Puts his right hand in his jacket pocket takes out a twenty pound note, raises it in the air. Puts it on the counter, looks at me. Gives me a wink, and leaves.

Ft. Heize

In July 2015 I perform an hour long monologue at the battersea arts centre. It’s about my time as an amateur boxer and how the gym was a sort-of sanctuary when my parents divorced, one of those stories I know I had to tell if ever given the opportunity to write something long.

I needed six weeks off work, three for rehearsing (and redrafting) and three for the run. My first paycheck gets me through rehearsals, on the first week of the show I was emptying my coin jar and using Mcdonalds Metro vouchers for dinner.

Unaware she's arrived on opening night, my ex sits in the front row. I fluff my timing in three scenes and the weight of expectation fucks up any sort of celebration. A decade of youth theatre. This isn’t youth theatre. After the show she hands me a card, congratulating me on getting here, on finishing this story.

I get four star reviews, that means they're not five star reviews.

In September 2016 we’re in San Diego and you’re driving us to the beach in your mum’s car, there are bare mountains in the distance, I've never seen anything like it.

I ask if you want your birthday present early, it's a mixtape I’ve been working on for the last two months. I learned how to use garageband to mix the horns of SpottieottieDopalicious with KissUpAndRubUpAndFeelUp and Convert youtube videos to mp3

  • Homeboy sandman singing happy birthday in Spanish, 
  • The sky is the limit instrumental that I talk over, reading out our first ever texts, leading into Kanye Wests' Only One.
  • K-Pop Medley.  
  • Lil Boosie's "Miss Kissin on You"

We get out the car, and you lead me to this beautiful garden that has exotic fish tiny ponds, scattered everywhere. There are hidden paths, and being so close to the sea we're able to sit on a bench that frames the sunset. Our birthdays are six days apart, you tell me that this park is my present. I try to digest the thought, to give what can't be claimed.

I look back at that fish, and try to make eye contact.

Climate Change.

your fingernails turn my head into a zen garden, 
raking back every thought till my mind is clear.

My thumb travels from your temple to your cheekbone
if the shower wasn’t running I’d swear time had slowed.

repositioning arms gives space between us occasional gasps.

A spaceship manoeuvres round our moving mountains of skin
aiming for the light, before my stomach falls onto you back
“You’ll never make it!” a crewman screams. “Just… keep.. on!” 
the captain barks.
that’s all the drama a Sunday can hold.

Best ways to crack a back?
a quick jolt from the bottom
of my palms till i hear the click
Your method is different to mine
it involves feet
and jumping
on my spine.

you ready?
I get nervous
close my eyes.

wake up
in a smaller, wider, bed
check my phone for your texts
scratch my head hard as I can
trying to find the feeling you'd give.
but I’m impatient. Want results quick.

go outside, feel climate change.
swallowed by the weight of the day
The space between us is now too large
to take. Heavy like
Large fries and a soy milkshake.
heavy like the drums on one in million
You can fill hundreds
of buildings
between our hands.
and an Ocean.
hand me a towel I’m dirty dancing.
by myself, going for naps
in my jaacket.

(You’re passing up two opportunities
when you pass up one cos
you’re missing the potential stuff
that could’ve come.

Two Edinburghs skipped
but what’s the point of writing
if I’m not writing about this?)

Mate I’m a tectonic plate with legs
Got my arrow of hopes aimed to the west
When I come back
you come through my hair
and ask why I have all these
scabs on my head.

Worst Behaviour

The red cheeks spread out across his pale face
Like a drop of red wine onto white tablecloth.

The frantic mouth is sane in music’s context
Otherwise it’s the high street preachers good word.

Matted black hair an imitation of thorns
Mexican-wave across his scalp with every bop.

Sweat leaping off his brow like a post-pond dog.
Shoulder to shoulder in a packed out night club.

One hand holds an Asahi like it's an Ace of spades
The other bounces like a heart attack on an EKG

The top of his t-shirt in red capital letters reads FREE

Below is the mugshot of a teenager
Whose face is the recipient of a recent beating.

One eye almost closed from the weight of swelling.
The flesh of the other bandaged open wide as peeled lychee.

A closed mouth with large lips accentuated by taut cheeks
Not one feature on his face gives away an inch of fear.
Under the mugshot reads                            MEEK MILL-

A t-shirt made in Philadelphia to support an incarcerated black boy
repurposed at the Moth club in East London for the sake of irony. 

Another boy points at the shirt, laughs, and spuds the wearer.
Both their arms are coddled in baby fat and wobble at the connection.
They laugh after- the boy wearing the t-shirt shouts ONLINE!
                                                                                        I KNOW!


Running starts.

Bad handwriting will make
all your poems ugly
I've made the best of ugly
When we thought it was cool
You thought it was funny
By the time you caught up
We thought it funny.

Nostalgia's dead air
letting dust rest
And metal rust.
It's not about making something
People want
It's about whether or not you
Want to make stuff.
There's healing and discovery
In the making.

There's a line I heard that
"A poem is never finished"
It's finished when the making of
The poem stops to serve you (you you you)

Creativity is a temperamental tamagotchi.
Who's the guy that made the statue of David again,
Was it Michelangelo or Donatello?
Either way, some days man worked on
the nose, some days it was the toes.
I'm trying to say, you have to work every
day, but you're always in control of where
the work goes.
Structures are made to build homes.
Some neighbourhoods are filled with
people who've never left their houses.
I can't imagine how suffocating that
existence is.

Maybe you're meant for the wilderness.
Plant some seeds, start slow
and hope a forest can grow.
Maybe you're meant to make something
different, something bigger.
Maybe they're making Super Mario World
And you're making Chrono Trigger.

Few years ago I thought my only
route was in slams
and back then the only night worth
going to was Bang!
So every week I'd work on a new piece
and when I'd get to the door I'd
see the names of my competitors
and I'd always see the name
of this guy and it would sink
my heart cos he kicked my arse
every time-
When I'd score a nine
He'd come through with a nineteen
I'd write sick lines,
My guy was writing rhyme-schemes
Night after night, I was a step behind
So I had to step to the side
a decision that worked out alright
Cos I could be getting better at
slams for the rest of my life-
I still wouldn't be a better slam poet
Than Harry Baker!

Keep on adapting,
don't stop doing.

Bad handwriting makes your
poems ugly
My poems are the ugliest.
I was even put in special classes.
In year six reading books for
year three cos I couldn't hold a pen
Reading books with titles like
"Daniel the Dolphin"
And it'll read like "This is Daniel
He's a Dolphin who lives in the sea!"
I was eleven man- what the hell has
Daniel the dolphin got to do with me?
Daniel the
I was in the playground inventing
wrestling storylines for my friends
Storing tag teams, double crosses
holders of intercontinental and
World Championships in my head.
I never equated that type
of feeling to intelligence.
I was just excited, it was fun.

You've only got one life
and if you're not doing what you want
It's bare long.
Just know you're not out of rhythm
If you're dancing to a different song
and there's no such thing as holding a pen wrong.

I'm not my Culture's finger puppet

I'm with Jade walking home
and fifteen balaclavas get off the C11

can you say you were chased
if you were frozen
if you didn’t even run?

relay bruises
in the spelling
now pain
is an echo
but to even look at
the pavement stone
hurts my back

It’s easier now.
(no boot dodging)
(buttons popping)
It's the past now
(Oh no! That's hilarious)

We talk about heartbreak and
the type of pain that kills you
We steer clear of the pain
that makes you beg for life

a wet dog finally inside
a room with nice lighting
Of darlings and babes.

Since that time I froze
I’ve got better at running away.

There’s a strain of violence
that’s pure
and I thought that purity
was noble

A week ago I went back to my old church my old stomping grounds my old home with my old people my old sparring partners my old priests my old choir boys my old friends speaking my old language- throwing hooks into shadows, throwingropes over heads over and over again I was in the middle and it sounded like the marching of a hundred men, sweating, working so hard to be in the same state.

Not me mate.
not me mate. sorry.
There’s no coming back
from when you get hit and you’re scared. 
And there’s no going back
once your mind draws that line in the sand.

Oh really? Oh wow.

Nisha finds sadness in Magnets.
The way the plus points can’t touch,
How they can only be attracted to opposites.
I’m like Nisha- they’re magnets.

It’s around nine pm on the Bakerloo line
and this girl is straightening her partners collar.
She untucks it from his jumper and smiles.
I’m like- alright love keep it to yourself.

I’m at Leanne’s house party in Queens park
she invited me, double checking if I’m single
saying it’s a bit of a singles party.
to myself I’m like- so lonely people only.
to her I’m like- what time.

There’s a bit of sadness in my nights out
and I can’t escape the sadness, it’s my own self.
The desperation for companionship
leaking into conversations gaps like a silent fart.

haha! (hold me!)

Leanne introduces me to the room as a beat boxer. 
I’ve never beatboxed in my life. (Jesus fucking christ)
Try to put a minus with the plus.
I’d be twenty quid down by now if this was a pub.

I check out the living room’s DVD collection.
“You can’t come in here”
These yours? You’ve got Curb your enthusiasm!
“This isn’t the party space”

I maintain eye contact in a conversation
while reaching for a Captain Morgan
and a jar full of cookies falls off the table,
smashes. Now all of them are inedible
because they’re mixed with glass.
I’m like- I bet one of them’s alright.