In one glance you’re a girl clad in silks,
in another a man in a jumper,
turn my back you’re a farmer,
blink and you’re a hunter,
fetch a pint and you’re a fisherman.
I wake up to a shepherd,
come back from a shift to a carjacker.

I can’t pin you down
you’re my turning year
a change in the weather
a new set of clothes
an alteration in the air
and I love you.

I’m Man Enough

18 in 1980 week afore starting uni,
lads night out and you’re dressed
in Burton’s bright yellow like a canary,
socks, shoes, shirt, jacket, because it’s cool.

Lads boast they down 11/12 pints
of John Smith’s bitter a night,
shag a lass then do same next night.
You’ve never done neither.

Follow lads round like fresh meat,
loud and brash, they talk of shagging
bints, fast cars, live bands you’ve
never seen coddled by your mam and dad.

Four pints in and your eyelids droop,
bitter makes you fall asleep, lasses
in short skirts with intentions nuzzle
up but loud music means you can’t listen

to what they’re saying and wouldn’t know
what to say. Lads jostle you. “We’re off
to neet club. A tha cumming?”. I shout
an apology. “Got to be in by 11.”

They get off. I leave the pub, buy
a pizza and pissed walk home uphill
chomping on greasy slices, cardboard
box too big, one side of road to another.

This Poem Is A

shaving mirror
in which you contort
your face to cut a whisker.

funpalace mirror
where globules of your flesh
bounce back at you.

car’s rear mirror
in which other drivers seem
too close, too large, too severe.

a bedroom mirror
at which your lover scowls
as you smile at her reflection.

Paul Brookes is a shop asst. Lives in a cat house full of teddy bears. His chapbooks are The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley, (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). The Headpoke and Firewedding (Alien Buddha Press, 2017), A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Forthcoming Port of Souls and Stubborn Sod, both illustrated by Marcel Herms (Alien Buddha Press).

Featured photograph by Karissa Lang