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
yes
everytime.
one,
close my eyes.
two,

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!
                                                                                        MERKAGE!

 

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"
Nah-
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
Correctly.
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
                 Jabroni.
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?

b-e-a-t-i-n-g
r-e-p-e-a-t-e-d
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.

UYHTB

The chain rattles in time to the sound of the blow

in rhythm every second the sound is heard again

a bell rings and silence fills the gym

there's not a day I'm not early to train

three minute noodles after school,

and bus rides the only times I sit down

sweat sweat sweat

if you filled the hall with

an evening of my sweat I'd drown

every other day 

the hall is a new place

youth club on Tuesdays

in it's kitchen cupboard

Saved The Last Dance on VHS

That was when I was thirteen

02 centre in Finchley road

My family isn't my family

if my father isn't home

I'm working on keeping my left foot ahead

and transferring the weight

working on perfecting the simple things

keeping my guard up

twisting the balls of my feet when throwing a punch

turning combinations on pads

into faces finding spaces into seemingly closed guards

twisting opponents into corners

not dragging my feet across the floor

careful stepping spider

Left hook fly swatter

Marlon my new sparring parter

year younger only really give him jabs

but he grows every time we touch gloves

later that night I train with the elders

they've learnt that there's no point holding back

they're trying to hit and all they do is miss

only time I encounter uppercuts

is when I enter a classroom

sleeping head lets chin

fall onto tables

sleep sleep sleep

slip into red sashes

sometimes blue

any corner of the ring

just know I don't lose

I went back to that

posh night in essex

and beat a boy

a stone heavier

Colins mate

apologised

and wishes

he bet on me

Colin slaps my back

Dad and I drive back

sleep with the trophy in my bed

my local corner shop

is now two buses away

turn up half an hour late

as paper boy and am

given the sack

can't tell my mates

my parents have decided to separate

muscles ache in my bed

Colin teaches me punches

thrown by willie Pep

in the midst of a winning streak

I find it hard to talk to Eve

she's fallen into friendships

and is good at conversation

I talk through punches

and fight like English

is my second language

talk talk got to talk

talk talk that's all the world is

my little bull terrier bingo

once came into the gym

and everyone there stopped to pet him

when in West Hampstead

he was looked at like he was a rat with a leash

maybe only boxers see the beauty in beasts

when you're avoiding punches

you see the beauty in anonymity

in school I'm asked if I've fought black boys

I tell them yes but it's the irish I'm scared of

Skipping Phapa’s bobbing head out my memory.

Jason borrows one of my boxing videos

didn't think it'd get passed around the whole school

sixth formers congratulating me on my bloody-nosed victory

the Sams chicken in my mouth so I don't say anything

Red pitch football followed by red pitch football violence

Mahmud breaks Pablu's arm, Jamal is chased

by Joseph and his brother with knives in their hands

how many summers ago was it that I remember

giving that same Joseph stone cold stunners

Sonny attacking men with hammers

now Kai is rushing Droisma while getting lunch

everyone is stepping up

trying to leave a mark

pressure to get something done

because at the end of the GCSE's

these boys wont be able to be here

and planting punches on others

are all the control we have left on ourselves

Ms Prince the only teacher to notice I've dipped

or maybe I was only ever good at English.

I tell her nothing while my insides are screaming.

cut up a mug

Moments we'll mark 

Moments made ours

Monuments to our past

The bus stops and parks

Blunt laced with first love

We light sparks n cut

Heartbreaks first scars

Some deep in arms 

Others under amour

Open to explorers of the past

I Can't go deep into mine

Haven't got the lungs or

heart, guts let alone

The rest of that squishy stuff

That makes us us

waiting for a spinal transplant

From the chain of same swing 

i swung on we go way back

way way back first thighs I felt 

were thicker than mine

father pushed me so high I cried

can you see Selom’s enemy

in Camden High street

he won’t serve me

the petty, shitty, nitty, gritty, filthy
            petty  shitty     fucking

all over with hexes

I want to make this benevolent

I'll come back like I never left it.

 

she’s five hours behind

and we’re waking up at the same time

I need some loving up

my heart is real low I need some topping up

feel like I’m gonna cry soon

scared it’ll be in public

inflict some conflict outside my office

strike up a convo Street Fighter combo.

Wifi Gods

Receive the look the laptop got when Lemonade dropped
I don't know what look I give back.
Hope it looks like there's no one else I'd rather look at.

Have you ever got drunk from kissing lots
Have you ever been drunk in a bath and kissed a lot
Have you ever kissed a lot
Have you ever felt safe?
Have you ever missed kissing. 
Have you missed it every day?

I want to kiss you. Want you to kiss me back
I want to be near you. Want us to hold hands
I’m always away from you.
Every day I
Can’t be with the person I
want to hold on to.

It’s not right, but it’s okay,
I’m gonna leave here N-E-Way
pack my bags, leave my keys
soon you’ll see more of me.

Till then I will pray to the god of wifi:

  • That when we look at each other
    we wont look like Goldeneye 64 characters
  • That message bubbles are always blue
  • that messages always come through
  • That there’s storage on our phones

-there’s never any storage on my phone,
(I've deleted so many dick pics just so
I can send you so many more
                                                  dick pics)

You send me a picture of your face
and it breaks me in half.
I hold my phone up in the street
And tell myself it's not daft.

(Try to remember what Tyra Banks says
'Smize' Smile through the eyes
My Smize looks like a mughsot
of a celebrity
that's been caught drink driving-
Hopeful but vacant)

I smile wide, it closes my eyes.
I don't think it looks good
Don't think it looks nice

You tell me I'm beautiful
and when you say it
I think that you’re right
 

Transferable skills

balance feet, twist hips, position arm,
hope.

Hours in the mirror.
When you throw a left hook just right,
The ground births the force.

after lining up the stance
I’d make eye contact with myself
and give a lil nod.

Access my second source of strength.

Being possessive is a character flaw.
rolling knuckles kiss jaw.

Where’s the trigger warning
for men’s hands on your skin.

He didn’t see the landmine,
                                        ,
He did jump the fence

He can lay with the skins I’ve shed
I’m a case you make to your friends

"His school only had one stabbing
What other baggage is he carrying?"

"Straight rights aside, 
has he learnt anything?"

The train jerks, throws
your body towards me
your head to my chest
My arm wraps
my feet spread
my knees bend.
My past, drip fed.

you kiss my neck to kiss my neck
my cheek’s blush, skin stretched.

I get the hard that hurts
The only hard you deserve.

My back your Japanese rock garden
Fingers tease webs from the caverns

Here’s to all the sparkles we hold.
To all the sweet patches we make.

Whenever there's a chance
We'll mix our blood. 
suck fingers after paper cuts.
Tenderness hits hard
when you have a violent past.

I see my face in the chicken shop mirror and smile.
Onion rings and Fries, everything takes a while

Black ink.

I liked being in your room. 

It was very messy but, the mess was a space filled with clothes that you've looked sexy in. A collage of buttons we undid, of zips we unzipped. 

"There's a lighter in the kitchen"
 
I look at your noticeboard,
a testament to lyrical intelligence
and growing up on Tetris, 

Friendships and show tickets- 
DOOM, Scroob, Badu, D'Angelo, Tempest. 

All your friends are smiling by themselves
They smile smiles parents love, 
smiles parents put on cards. 
I stare into their eyes for answers. 
If the blank ink for pupils could
hold another darkness. 

They all went the same way, you all met in the same place.


In the bottom corner there's a holiday pic of you and your sister.
She's since got taller, you've stopped getting thinner

I look at your smile and it resembles the others
so much I sit away from the board till you return.

I think about the dagger. I think about the waltz.

Delicate fingers delicately fold the rizla
with all the care a mother rocks her newborn.

The grinder a life raft in the ocean that’s your thigh.

You look so good now
You’re doing so good now. 

Yeah. You say yeah. 
Inhale and hold. 
Let go and exhale.

Ashes in the bed. 
We escape the crematorium
just to take the mates who aren't with us, 

with us.

I talk to you about the phone call,
how I tried to keep him on the line
.
I talk to you about missed calls,
how I said I’d call back after my shift.

I talk to you about the funeral,
how he had Sonic on his casket.
I talk about the picture they had of us when we were younger
How I looked into his eyes but only saw black ink.
Only saw a good kid.


It's not fair that all that weight was his. 
It's my fault for not being there for him.

Your hand touches mine, moving it from my face.
you hold my palm with the intimacy and tenderness

our bodies were always too scared to give
and you offer me

the next best thing after a Tyson left hook.  

It makes you lighter.  It's good

Halloween

Jerking rumbles, emails, phone calls, direct messages, knocking doors (Fucking Bailiffs)

The stress of living with a heart nudging it's owner a self employed invoice.

All my most used words exposed as gluttonous; Bunch of Hlebs, flashy in space but when the moment comes, they break, losing the ball. 

My stronghold is cool. To every eloquent sentence you give me all I have in return is- cool-cool-cool.

It's abysmal, Gary.

And then there's this supposed Heavyweight Champ dick. For years, swaggering into rooms like Sonny Liston.

Then again, who can say they saw Ali coming until they were staring up in disbelief?