Bone tongue sticking out of grinning knee,

a mouth where it shouldn’t be,

wet and pink like a lizard’s gawp,

a mean mimic of the mouth

that’s screaming into silence

the whole of the playground.


Fun fossilised at the sight of bare bone,

the teachers keeping us back,

not wanting young children to see

an open-mouthed kiss set in stone

at the exact moment,

after the knee locked its non-existent lips with the steps,

that those lips, prized open, came to be.


But I did see it, unfortunately,

a gangly-gained gash,

extreme pornography,

a mouth where it shouldn’t be,

the first kiss I remember most clearly.







I often cried in front of you –

sometimes when you hit me,

once when,

as you were teaching me to ride a bike,

you let go of the handlebars

and losing control I fell off,

and once, when teaching me DIY,

you gave me a heavy claw hammer

to bang some nails into wood

and I proceeded to bang my thumb instead.


‘For Christ’s sake!’ you said, disgusted.

‘You’re thirteen. Don’t you think it’s about time

you managed to resist the urge to blub like a girl

every time you get hurt?’


Well, I never cried in front of you again –

not even years later at your funeral.


Though I was devastated,

the tears just wouldn’t come.


I wish you could have seen it.

You’d have been proud.






It’s mad to think

I’m just thirteen

and already hooked.


One moment of boredom

alone in the house

was all it took.


Imagine the best sneeze you’ve ever had,

then multiply it a thousand times,

and still you’re nowhere near

how good it felt.


I would never have believed

that one table spoon full of the stuff could do so much.

All I can think about now is the next score –

and who cares that the real trouble begins

when you share your syringe

with others in relationships:

I’m in enough trouble already

with my suddenly-worsening grades at school,

but the problem is, I just don’t give a shit anymore.


Mrs Lane, our religious studies teacher,

told us all to Just Say No,

but little does she know

that she’s the reason I started.


Most days I shoot up

in a cubicle in the boys’ toilet during break,

thinking of Mrs Lane to heighten the pleasure

as the drug begins to hit.


It may be sleazy, but what can I do?

And the teachers in the school may disapprove –

but I can see,

in their junkie sick eyes,

that they’re addicted too.







Thomas McColl lives in London and has recently been published in Push, Paper & Ink, Hand Job Zine, Prole, International Times and Liars’ League London. His first full collection of flash fiction and poetry, Being With me Will Help You Learn, is out now from Listen Softly London Press.