image1 (2)

1. The Kitchen

Dear Louise,
eight days and nights of the painbirds –
flapping and feeding and shitting voices into me.
I sit, or pace up and down stairs,
or try to lie down,
or hide,
crouching behind the Ikea clothes rail
in our bedroom.

My head is an electric meat-slicer:
the painbirds feed my gut to a circular blade,
churning a severe angle,
a black-blue grind.

I am paining

I am pig iron

I am chain sore.

2. The Bathroom

A Surgeon-General’s Warning for Paul

If you sud

den – – ly

s  t  o  p

taking this


you may

experience certain side-elements

dogma numbness

sliver dizziness

bending sickness

agitation heaves.

An increase of boost-freedom [see notes 7.41 to 7.4/9]

has also been observed

in patients.


smoking when experiencing unwanted trauma –

psycho men(ta-lit-y),

aural hallucination –




3. The Bedroom

Darling Lou,
I hope you are well and enjoying the scenery.
I have some news –
I’m self-medicating!
I walked to Leyton Library,
typed my instructions,
printed them out
and read them
over and over and over
lying in our new Ikea pine bed.

4. The Lounge

Self-Medicating with a Cigarette

1. Hand-roll and light a cigarette – try not to think how Lou would light my cigarette
2. Puff hard on it
3. Roast-up tip until glowing red – try not to remember how Lou put on lipstick
4. Pick a recent blister from anywhere on the body
5. Pop the blister – try not to think of Lou’s last birthday and the champagne breakfast
6. Take a long drag
7. Press tip onto weeping blister until the cigarette goes out
8. Re-light cigarette
9. Repeat until the painbirds are silenced

5. The Garden

Dear Paul,

I remember the time we parked at the docks; the night-growl of freight trains, the cranes filling ships; I couldn’t sleep. By dawn you were twitchy, needed a drink; after the first gulp of Tenants Super you were sick – by the second can we counted the cargo containers stacked like stickle-bricks. It’s 5 a.m. and I still can’t sleep; I try to button-up my eyes, the arch of my cramped foot tightens; on my shoulder is the rose tattoo you needled me to have and would kiss when we made love. I clung to your blue-black frame as you creased and slowly folded into Claremont Road, the incident tape is still wrapped around us; I thrum and purr for your touch, lying here, curled around your silence.


Paul Hawkins is a poet poet, text artist, collaborator & publisher sometimes known as Bob Modem &/or haul pawkins. All the useful details:  Twitter: haulpawkins

Artwork by Paul Hawkins

Author picture by Owen Shirley