lunchtime mediocrity

i am staring into an abyss
that is this ham sandwich.
this irrevocable descent into
lunchtime mediocrity
and workplace anonymity.

Dizzy Gillespie bebops in my ears
Dee Gee Days, Lady be good as
little people jostle and bustle,
eating little people meals,
lunchtime meal deals. sad life meals.

and i am at one with this chair.
at peace with this table.
metamorphosed into a casual diner,
a suit in a sea of polyester hoodies,
a man with a ham sandwich.

and if i squint, the world becomes
black and white. a world of contrast.
of day and night.colourless, insipid and dull.
my table is a mess of light brown crumbs.
my brain is a mess of fudgy thoughts.

a mother sets her screaming brat
into a kiddy ride that blasts
electronic noise. aural pollution.
an affront to my middle aged senses.
i mutter like a grumpy old man.

i’ve picked the ham from baguette.
extracted protein from carb,
millions are starving and i offer
bread to the lunchtime bin. perhaps
i should fatten up instead of staying thin?

coffee keeps me keen. sharpens my angst.
a sip to open my brain, to open my mind.
i have finished my repast at last,
thrown my net over this lunchtime treat
said my peace, acquiesced to convention.

i will return tomorrow.
same time, same seat, same table.

same sandwich.


the early morning train to El Paso

on the early morning train again
with funky Ben and sleepy Germaine
squinting in the morning sun as we
hurtle past Luton on the London run

a man called Stan
(who has a poodle called Charlie)
is discussing the virtues,
or otherwise, of super noodles and
other things edible and synthetic
with a chap called Norris who looks
like a small hairy rhinoceros.
their conversation is quite pathetic.
the track rushes by. i imagine
their tangled bodies crushed
beneath this early morning train
never to reach Paddington alive,

but what of the consequences?
the aftermath. the legacy.
i could run from the cops, the fuzz,
the filth, the old bill. buy a ranch
in El Paso, raise conifers and corn.  drop Peyote,
howl with the coyotes….

the train stops.

a line of liquorice allsorted commuters
jostle and bustle and rush and curse…

a conductor points to something clinging
to the steel wheels. it looks like a body….

the wind is shouting

has rattled my cage.
unsettled me,
annoyed me.

tiny unseen elfish hands
have scuppered my best-laid plans.

for a coffee break.
a mug of Joe.
then another.

to escape from this tedium.
this incessant, gnashing humdrum.

on window sill.
i am torpid.
morbidly inert.

the parking lot looks nice.
i can see my car in the distance.

dark and black, shake.
the wind is shouting.
the sky is falling.

triple glazing keeps the outside out
and the inside in. nature, pissed of, pouts.

the telephone.
cue reality.

chair swivels.
round and round
in this insidious merry-go-round.

i fold some paper. google ‘irrational behaviour’
stumble on a promise that ‘Jesus is my Lord and Saviour’

dark and black, shake.
the wind is shouting.
the sky is falling.

walls and doors and responsibility
trap me in this corporate insanity.


thin shafts of light light up my room,
lifting the seductive-seasonal-gloom,
popping the elfin mediocrity.

i struggle with my Christmas depressing gown,
which hangs on me like a stocking.

at 7am, i should be tucked up asleep,
not pacing dappled floorboards
in Christmas slippered feet.

coffee. ah. sweet caffeine.
a cup of joe on the go, a pick-me-up
before the bastards grind-me-down.

it’s been snowing again. hanging like
curdled semolina against window panes:
a sick back-to-work-joke.

all around the house is still.
contented snores fill the air as i,
suited-and-suitably-booted, depart.

the outside is not like the inside.
it is hullabalooic-unhappy-icy.
the morning light is weak and unkind.

there can be no turning back now.
post-festivious office banter beckons.
another cup of joe and a stale mince pie.

thin shafts of light light up my office,
lifting the seductive-seasonal-gloom,
popping the corporate mediocrity.

it’s horrible.

Soda farls and spit and sizzle

my mother wrestled flour, buttermilk and yeast
preparing our daily soda bread feast
kneading dough on a small formica table
rounding the sodas before slashing each middle
then testing the griddle until flour dust browned
before setting each soda flat side down

the griddle took up most of the range
burnt and black, round and heavy gauge
made from smelted chunks of iron ore
gouged from Mother Earth’s molten core
a staple of every honest Irish kitchen
a blackened symbol of farmhouse tradition

when my mother was busy and her back turned
i’d creep to the range, careful not to get burned
and dribble spit onto the hot plates in a drizzle
to watch it fry and dance and spit and sizzle
crazy bouncing saliva hot, fizzing and alive
dancing like cowboys to the slugs of a colt 45

“what do you think you’re doing young man!”
my mother would shout, her strong rough hand
would clout my ears until stinging and warm
then drag me kicking as I wailed in alarm
dumping me in the hall to sit on the stairs
as she finished the sodas, leaving me to my tears

then in a sweet lilting tone she called me back in
perched me at the table, tucked a bib under my chin
fresh warm soda dripping in butter was proffered
a peace offering to a boy from his long suffering mother
i bit into the sweet buttermilk dough and dribbled
butter and crumbs onto the flowery formica table

that was a different age, a selfish innocent time
a soft and gentle world when my mum was all mine
and we shared soda moments as we sat at the table
in a tiny room, in a tiny house, happy and comfortable
and watched the cold outside blowing wind and drizzle
as my spit hit the range top to dance, spit and sizzle.

mince pie crumbs

snow tomorrow.
a dusting or two.
a smidgin of seasonal white
to delight the child within.

i imagine
carollers singing
as a tramp shivers
below the bridge,
by the river,
tucked out-of-sight.
tucked out-of-mind.

and youtube will be choc-full
of frantic puppy dog vids
of frantic puppy dog skids
in snow they’ve never seen before,

and mulled wine will stain
the lips and jumpers
of seasonal plumpers
who hoard mince pie crumbs
in their folds.

i don’t like snow much
and i will watch it
turn to churned-up slush:
I don’t like mince pies either
for that matter.
and carol singers
make me ill.
but i’ll dig out an old blanket
for the old man under the bridge.
and raise a glass to Chione.