You shoplifted every Sunday
afternoon, right before the shops
closed. A ritual you’d practice
over and over until you thought
you had finally cracked it.
Everything would be stolen: cases
of beer, fluffy pens, moth-patterned
journals, claret coloured leather
jackets, quail eggs, joke moustaches,
a blind man’s golden Labrador.
You would walk with the stolen goods
hidden under your coat, taking
slow steps to fool everyone that the bulge
was that of a pregnant woman.
When you had your baby decades later
you would conceal him like a pair
of wings you wanted nobody to see,
afraid if he saw what you did, he would fly.


I was 14 when I first uttered
it on a school trip to Epping
Forest*, hurling it like a discus
at Jerome, the class idiot.

But the wind had grabbed
it instead, dropping it
in the hands of our head
of year, Mr T, who pulled me

aside like a rabid dog needing
to be controlled. Would you
like your parents to know
what you said? Yes I wanted

to say. Yes Yes Yes. I wanted
them to know how I licked
words like fuck, cunt, shit,
bollocks, motherfucker from their

faulty tap, watching them spin
like the sycamore seeds
falling around me, listening
to the sudden thud of bone

crashing to the earth
over and over and over,
the way they had always let it
happen to me.

*Epping Forest is a forest in Essex, England

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