The Drinker’s Fallacy

Pub where Poet John Berryman (C) is talking to other customers. (Photo by Terrence Spencer/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

I might need to apologise in the morning, but…


Is this a poem? –


I stood in my kitchen staring at the floor,

so many gatherings happened here,

and now I am hungry

and the kitchen is empty.


Or just a sentence that has fallen down a stair case? Splitting a sentence up over several lines does not make a poem.

The above is original but it is an example of a lot of stuff that is out there at the moment. It is why I have failed to enjoy poetry when I have tried. I have, for some unknown reason to myself (as I am a novelist at heart), started writing the stuff. I don’t think poetry needs to sit in the romantic teenage angst corner of the literary world, but it is hard for the stoic amongst us to find our way in. I love words, and I think poetry is well suited to them, but the above is just a pointless cop-out.

There is a satisfying cadence to the English language that can be showcased with poetry. Breaking up sentences and pretending it is art is an insult to that. Write better.




The Beaten Ream

Roald Dahl qoute

Enter Solitude

Stare into its face

Scream into its abyss


Grab your pen

Tear through the paper

Force ink into existence


Rake out your heart

There lies nothingness

Dying to bleed out and be


Your mind churns

Scraping against your skull

Cough and sweat those words


Piss into the glass

Whisky is your remedy

You hollow tired hack of a writer


Better is the world you view

You can’t see it from the inside

Solitude provides the high ground


Walk Between the Rain (a short Haiku story)


A man in a coat

Poured whisky into a glass

Trapped in by the rain


The bar was crowded

All around him people talked

Hunched over his drink


He glanced to his right

The rain pounded the window

He refilled his drink


The barman knew him

He lets him keep the bottle

Only when it rains


The rain keeps him in

So he drowns himself in booze

The sun dries him out


The rain keeps, he stands

Leaves fifteen quid and a tip

Walks between the rain

New to Haiku


And now; a haiku

Five syllables, seven, five

The rules are simple


I need a subject

So I can give this haiku

Some needed substance


Haiku’s stand alone

Three pithy lines and no more

But I like stories


Good, I think that’s it

Haiku’s are pretty easy

I am a turtle


And now I’ve had a practice I’ll turn my hand to the dark and horrid world my writing normally inhabits – Walk Between the Rain (a short Haiku story)

Expunging Life


Here comes the awful thing.

It was stuck, but now it’s free.

Trapped in the silk.


The paper colony, wasted

A city of would-be men

In a crumpled page


Flush the city of worms

The tadpole manly things

Searching the U-bend


No eggs in there my friends

Death to the millions

That could be anything


Except people. Or much else.

The Romance of Unluv

Unluv Lobster

The drama of life doesn’t start at birth. Nor does it start with your first love. No, the drama of life starts in your parent’s bedroom. That one glorious squirt that resulted (on this occasion) in the 42 year-old man before me.

Unluv – that was his name – a miserable, hateful, fuckup with all the compassion and charisma of a dead horse at a dressage recital.

It was Valentine’s Day, 2016. Me; a single female human with breasts and hair; lips, ears, all the trimmings; you know the sort of thing, a woman with little care for her own appearance. I had given up. 35 and dating weird wash-ups like this guy.

He looked at me over his steaming lobster. Not a stare. No smile. Just a blank face with two eyes in the middle of it.

‘Enjoying your lobster?’ I said. He looked down at it and then back up at me. ‘Okie dokie then,’ I said.

The waiter came over and offered for me to taste the wine. I nodded and smiled. The waiter poured a splash into my glass and Unluv shot his arm across the table and took the glass from in front of me and the bottle from the waiter. He poured a proper glass. I glared at him, although really, I kind of liked his fed-up with life attitude.

‘Fuck off,’ he said to the waiter.

We drank. We ate.

His whole name was Jason Tolstoy Unluv. He wasn’t Russian (so he told me) he said his parents were lunatics who dedicated their lives to fucking with him in as many ways as possible.

His name fit though. I wondered if it’s a coincidence that he’s completely loveless, and unlovable, or if his name has dictated his outlook on life in some way. Nominative determinism in action.

I began to find his total absence of being, his total lack of any kind of reality, his inhumane quietness, weirdly endearing.

He picked up his lobster with one hand and turned it. He looked into its face. The lobster was dead, but this action seemed to give the lobster more life than Unluv had. He put it back down again and with the same hand picked up his knife and stabbed it. He let go of the knife and it stayed there, sticking out of its back like a flag. He watched it mournfully.

‘More wine?’ I said.

He didn’t answer.

You know, getting fellas is not something I’ve ever been particularly successful at. I could go to a night club right now and wave my tits in some lads face and he would run a mile. I could even try a more subtle approach, but it would make little difference. Men are repelled by me. Maybe, if I want to get laid, I should start slinging snatch. You know what I mean? Like a gunslinger who shoots from the groin. The funny thing is no one in their right mind would fuck me just because I came on to them in a bar but if you tell a guy you’re charging they will not only give you that impersonal bang you’ve been gagging for, but pay you for it afterwards. That’s why most street hookers resemble alcoholic vending-machines in drag while that pretty girl at the bar is single. The human condition, at least in men, is in no condition at all.

I think a shag with Unluv, although not particularly appealing, is probably on the cards. It’s like he knows that to get in to a girls panties you must first dine them. So that’s what this is. That explains why he isn’t doing anything. It’s mechanical. He waits for me to feed myself, we go for a walk, he stands awkwardly outside my house waiting for the code word that means fucking; ‘coffee?,’ and up we go for some unpleasant wooden rutting.

He pulled the knife out of the lobster and dropped it on the plate. It made that awful clanging sound that makes my teeth want to escape into my scull.

I watched him pick the lobster back up and break it in half. I drank my second glass of wine – my lobster was already gone, cake is coming – and looked at him more closely. He had large shoulders and the possibility of a firm chest under his jumper. His jumper was green. An unflattering colour for most. Most things would be unflattering on Unluv. A brief image flashed into my mind of grasping those big shoulders while he pounds into me. I cross my legs under the table. He looks up at me and I dry up.

His eyes are strong. His hair is thick and matted.

He used his desert spoon to dig out the insides of the lobster on to his plate and then ate it with his big hands.

I leaned the wine bottle towards me and looked into it. I knew it was empty but we all know what these gestures mean. Hunched over his plate clumsily eating his white meat he watched me check the bottle with a movement of his brow.

He licked the butter from his fingers and stopped a waiter who was walking by.

He spoke sternly and to the point. If he had ordered the waiter to kill for him he probably would have done it.

When the waiter returned he had two portions of chocolate cake and another bottle of wine. Chocolate and white wine together is essentially disgusting but we managed it.

When the cake was crumbs and the wine was gone Unluv stood. He dropped a few notes on the table and pulled his jacket off the back of the chair. I got the message.

Outside, the sky was black and clear. There were only three stars and the moon was absent. It was cold. Unluv walked half a pace ahead of me. I held my jacket tightly around me as I hurried along after him.

He turned into an off-licence. The bell rang his entrance. He bought 20 cigarettes and a bottle of vodka. Not Russian my arse.

He lit a cigarette and left it in his mouth. I had never seen anyone smoke a whole cigarette without taking it out of his mouth before. When he was done he either swallowed it or spat it out, I didn’t see it happen so I can’t be sure, but his hands remained in his pocket the whole walk back. I watched him as we walked, me lagging slightly behind. He had a broad back and a walk that told the world to back the fuck off.

We stopped outside my house and he looked at me under his heavy brow.

‘Coffee?’ I said.

He walked up the steps to my front door and tried the handle. I walked up and squeezed in front of him and unlocked the door.

In the kitchen I got two glasses out and he filled them with vodka. He lit another cigarette and picked up the glasses. He watched me. I would say expectantly but it wasn’t. He just watched me. Even so, I took his base body language to mean, ‘We’re drinking these in your bedroom.’

Valentine’s day; for the single woman you feel like a Jew at Christmas. It’s shit and depressing. If you were Jewish and people wished you a happy Christmas regardless of your fake sideburns I bet you’d wish you could stab them with you seven candled Menorah, and shout, ‘Happy Hanukkah you fucking moron!’

There should be a Valentine’s Day for single people. It should be called Sunday (this year at least).

We fucked. He squirted. Nine months later I gave birth to a lump of wood with a granite face. Happy Sunday you fucking morons!

Charlie Hillman


Charlie Hillman set off one day

He had nothing but a song and his own good name

He had no money, no house and no car

Just a road and an old guitar


His feet was saw now and the road was long

Three more steps and the sun was gone

He stood alone on an empty road

Nowhere to sleep and the night was cold


But Charlie was determined and wise and sure

He camped in the doorway of a local store

He slept while his fingers strummed a riff

It was a song about strife and defeating the rich


The sun was up now and Charlie was gone

A man silhouette against the heat of the sun

A one way journey to deliver his song

For in his jacket was concealed a gun


And in an office not far away

A meeting of suits was underway

“The profits are up now by 6 percent,

And we only had to fire thirty men”


The men they laughed and smoked cigars

They had nice suits and brand new cars

But in worn out shoes, not far away

Was a man who had nothing but something to say


Charlie arrived at the big HQ

The building was tall and it ruined the view

The receptionist said, “Hey, who are you?”

And Charlie said, “Nobody, just some dude.”


“Could you help me out, miss, where’s the lift?

I got some urgent business.”

She said, “I’m sorry, sir, you’re not booked in.”

He said, “Well, listen, you better call their next of kin”


On the top floor executive lounge

Men in suits just hung around

They seemed to be finding something quite funny

They’re pockets were full with piles of money


And there stood Charlie Hillman

He said, “I’ve come to kill you, you starved my children.”

“But before I do,” he said kinda sly,

“I’ll play you a song, it should explain why.”

Mother of Squalor

Mother of Squalor

She tipped her hat against the wind and squinted through the rain

Her life was a novella of pulp in a moonlit motion picture of class

Her high heels kicked through puddles that reflected street lights

The book in her bag was damp from intruding weather


Her coat held closed, her umbrella shielded her lipstick from the thunder

The lightning flashed, silhouetting her shadow against the passing cars

A busker stood against a wall emptying water from his guitar

A bottle of wine stood safe on her kitchen counter


The coke in her bag gave a clue to her hurried trot through the streets

The dwindling spring in her mind was racing to indulge some more

Men in pubs behind her spread rumours about her allure

Her legs were food for their hormonal hunger


At last she arrived home and discarded her twisted umbrella in the garden

She fished for her keys with dripping hands and unlocked the front door

Inside she fell against the wall and stumbled into her lounge

She paid the babysitter and put on a record


She carved out her last lines on an old record sleeve. It was a Bob Dylan vinyl

She laid back on her couch and fumbled with her backie to roll a cigarette

With no money left she used a straw to snort the last particles of white

She kicked off her shoes and pulled off her dress


Sprawled naked in the bath she let the hot shower rinse off her soiled elegance

A wine glass toiled between her fingers. She hummed a half remembered tune

She had the sense of mind to towel before she crawled to bed

She slept for an hour before her daughter cried her awake.


The Obscene and Criminal Malice Inflicted by Time


You know when you lose your TV remote and it drives you crazy. You look everywhere. You search frantically, chucking the pillows off the couch and lifting it up to look underneath. You check under newspapers and lift up the rug. How can it have disappeared? It’s a TV remote! After looking everywhere you finally give up and sit down, defeated and dejected. After your internal tantrum has abated, after you’ve mentally blamed everyone and everything that could have caused it to vanish, including the cat, you finally calm down and look up at the TV. And there it is. Right in front of you, on the TV stand. Of course it is. It’s obvious now. The thing you were looking for was right there in front of you the whole time. For fuck sake.

I have that feeling. I have it all the time. The problem is, that moment of sitting back and finally finding it hasn’t come. I don’t even know what is missing.

It is that feeling that makes you want to travel. The urge to explore. You don’t know what it is you expect to find but you’ll be damned if you’re going to stop looking before you find it. But it’s not just that. And it’s not just travel. It’s everything. You don’t just want to explore new lands, you want to learn everything. You want to try everything. All the food. All the music. All the booze. All the knowledge. Time is being pulled from our veins with each passing minute. Aging us. Every day that passes, every second that tics, every Christmas that zooms past; we are being killed by the calendar, one day at a time. Fill those days before they are rudely taken from you.

You don’t have to pack up all your shit and spend the rest of your life travelling. That would be a form of hell for some. It is a feeling that surrounds everything. You wish you had learned how to play the piano when you were younger. You can buy a second-hand piano or keyboard for £20. Get one. Learn how to play it. You will love it. Want to write a book? It costs nothing. Just start typing. It doesn’t matter if you know what you want to write about. That will come. Just start slinging words together and see what happens.

People have no urgency. People don’t seem to want to do anything anymore. They are content dedicating their life to a career. Have a career, why not, I have one, get promoted, do good work, but be ready to put your foot down and leave work early to go to your kid’s school play. Let your job pay for the things you love. Don’t miss out on life so you can get more money. You want that money so you can have a better life so what is the point if you are giving up on life to get it?

I write because I’m going to look back tomorrow and release that yesterday was thirty years ago and I have left nothing solid to justify the wasted years. I write so I can trap time and keep it there.

The Prince of the Skunks


Withered and wicked was the prince of the skunks

God damn his reputation in the pubs of the drunks

They knew him locally as the holder of the bar

His legend ran deeper than the depth of his scars

For which he had many


On the stage at the piano he pressed his keys

One by one, black and white, a fucked-up melody

Bewildered and confused, he was the minor freak

He used every musical quip to defend his sheep

For which he had none


Hat covering his eyes, stage light shielding nothing

Lyrics full of lies causing lips taught from bluffing

His life was far weirder than his fingers could say

But not one man could know what he loved or why

And neither could he


He sings to old whores, broken strings, and beaten lyrics

No shoes, the mad artist spoke in vitriolic polemics

People in the pub followed the movement of his jaws

But had no idea what a fucking vitriolic polemic was

Not one word


He coughed and laughed in the face of the gods

Beer in his veins and static in is heart

The breakdown of reason

Where are my shoes?

What is this mess?