the fuzz in my head

did not ebb away

until I was in my mid 20’s

when I finally found peace

with me in the world

I was living alone then

a little one room place

shared bathroom

my own kitchenette bed chair & table

I’d get up early run the seafront

bathe breakfast & the day was mine

to read write walk amongst people

not engaging or disengaged

just gently fenced off

I had no tv booze drugs

to distract from thinking

feeling my way through

just time to sit read write

preparing to go to university

to engage with the world

in a newer way

while the fuzz slowly ebbed away

that grey throb horror of family

dark legacy of others mistakes

to give space for me

start over

begin to find my way again

casual as

can you pass the potatoes?

over sunday lunch he leaned in

my old man has issues

couple of guys owe him money

he did the work & now

they don’t want to pay

I was wondering y’know

if you might know anybody

people who might help?

& this is how life changes

I thought we were here for lunch

family friends hanging out easy

but now his true feelings come out

he thinks I’m the kind of guy

knows guys can help collect debts

which of course I do

but now the pretence of family

easy going friends ends

the problem I tell him flat

is those kinds of guys bring in

more problems than they end

do you really want that?

so now I’m an unhelpful fella

rather than a wise friend

& our charade parade of ease

tick tocks to an uneasy end

more than

lucky lucky me

we do these things now

because we want to

for family for love

for being the right thing to do

& yes the feeling good

contributing to the whole

but I was not raised this way

all these were a chore

that had to be done

for appearances for spite

no love no care no grace

& me I was lucky lucky

to find friends people who loved

rather than endured

gave me chances to learn

to become more than

I’d had before

once their life

working at the thrift

there are fewer things sadder

mebbe being thrown over

for a better other

divorce death

or loved ones

family cats dogs dying

than working

with these remnants


of anothers’ life

cardigans with names sewn in

worn carpet slippers

grannies cutlery drawer

thrown into a cardboard box

knives forks spoons

bottle openers corkscrews

jumbled now in the plastic tray

still holding the crumbs

of her


their life

no matter how slight

my family

very probably your family

of donkeys elephants

do not forget

hoard memories

no matter how slight

the slight

I have cousins who will

never speak

for some childhood fight


over an xmas board game

& those who do talk

are looking for action

to right the wrongs

of yesteryear

bring up grievances

misremembered arguments

fault lines

where of course

they are in the clear

floating past my ears

all these words passing through

floating past my ears

people talking about family

things everybody knows

& nothing settles within

chimes resonates takes hold

their fulsome magic formula

of togetherness bonds of bind

where I have distance

strangers in a spread circle

using different languages

songs sung to separate

than join hands

fathers buried early

mothers gone to foreign lands

sister brothers halves & bastards

separated by vows of silence

things that cannot be spoken

secret shame whispered

in quieter corners behind hands

how I envy the warmth

to shake this coldness

that I will never understand

in my naivete

I was helping out on a photo shoot

being the supportive one

to my PR career woman

sent out to buy magazines for a family

car one for dad

cosmo’ kind of thing for mum

comics for the kids

returned to the shoot

these were not for reading

but to be carefully placed as if they were

there were a lot of people around

& when I asked

these are the family of the family

the mum & dad were not the mum & dad

the kids were not brother & sister

the car was not their car which I kinda knew

in my naivete I had not thought

somebody had gone through a mugshot book

pulled out their ideal family for this PR parade

take that dad, that mum, that kid & that one too

& there they were beaming at each other

like love was their go to in life

while I sat way out of the way

thinking what other lies had I missed

along my way

tolls paid

looking at a family photo

not my family or my photo

the man eyes bright arms around his kids

grandkids all together & smiles

the wife separate by about a foot

half smile side on to show the slim

emphasise the gap between her

the kids grandkids extended family

& I thought long

on her strength in holding herself


to keep anyone else

from crowding in

& the toll that must take

on her

& all the family

higher song

I get mail

notes from others

folk I loved way back when

& let’s not get confused

not all of them are my friends

but we are family

raised by different mothers

& I might get misty about these

cos I get none

from the people who raised me

they have nothing

to say to out loud anymore

& you may think

I must’ve done them badly

been just plain wrong

but the truth is harder

I frighten them

having adventures

seeing & being in the world

they just don’t like

I raised myself strong

learned a higher song

stepped out of the mud

learned to crawl free