push snooze
push snooze again
push eyes open
push back sheets
push toothbrush
push arms into sleeves
push feet into shoes
push food down throat
push out the door
push Oyster card on reader, watching out for card clash
push through platform crowds
push down inside the carriages
push headphones into ears
push back at space invaders
push out and gasp air
push card to swipe in
push button on lift
push start button to bring life to screen
push delete on emails
push cup under nozzle and push "espresso"
push "espresso" again for good measure
push the hours forward
push problems around, solve none
push away the thoughts of mind-numbing boredom
push away your dreams till 5:30
push "espresso"
push back at increased workload
push notifications
push the system forwards
push button on umbrella
push Oyster card on reader, watching out for card clash
push headphones into ears
push past dithering shoppers
push key into lock
push food down throat.

pull back a chair
pull cork from bottle
pull on comfy pullover
pull open the window
pull back your dreams
pull ink across page
pull reality from the mind
pull open Pandora's Box
pull out all the stops
pull drooping eyes open, again
pull yourself up to look at the stars
pull pullover tighter round
pull further thoughts from where you thought none remained
pull no longer
pull back sheets
let eyes fall closed.


I missed the era of vinyl. Before I was really aware of music, the world had shrunk its music and moved it onto cassette tapes. I vaguely remember songs recorded from the radio, DJ announcements intruding on opening bars, mad dashes to the decks as realisation dawned that those opening bars were the ones you’d been after for weeks. I remember hand-scrawled notes on scraps of card shoved in plastic cases, birthday presents of entire albums across two sides of tape that passed through teeth, slowly getting mangled. In order to listen to music, you had to destroy music.

But these are snippets of memory. My real era was that of CDs. That of homemade mixtapes (the word outlasting the medium) with no indication of what was on them. When I find one today, and can find a player, it’s a pot luck dinner of nostalgia. I still remember the first album I bought, when I saved up pocket money and vouchers for weeks to buy Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory. I still have it, and if I went through my collection, would probably find that particular CD inhabiting the box of a completely different album. I used to look forward to coming home and choosing a particular album to listen to from start to finish, the soundtrack to my evening of me-time, long before that word became a thing. An album was a vibe that you absorbed. A CD was a beautiful shiny relic, and I was drawn to them like a magpie. Disused copies became works of art. Two floor-to-ceiling cupboards in my childhood bedroom are still covered with them, shiny side out, a musical mirror fallen silent. Accuse me of rose-tinted glasses if you wish, but we listened to music differently back then. You were always aware of music, because it took a certain effort for it to be playing. Even when listening on headphones, a Discman was a physical presence in your lap. You felt it. You cradled it still to prevent it skipping. You learned albums inside out as you navigated them based purely on track numbers, or you left it to finish playing in its natural order. When an album came to an end, there was silence: silence like the closing credits of a film, or the blank pages in the back of a novel. Space for the listener to reflect on what they had heard, turn the emotions over, regain composure, float back into the real world. I miss those times. There was something of a ritual to music, an effort on the part of the listener that urged them to stay and listen to the whole piece as the artist had created it. 

But you can’t fight the times. I’m now a Spotify subscriber, an avid Soundcloud listener, a YouTube channel subscriber. Things just seem different now. There is no silence. One track by one artist fades into another by another, faceless algorithms pairing songs together based on the listening habits of millions. There’s no time for silence. Tinny earbuds spew the latest tracks into desensitised ears before becoming irrelevant again. There’s no time for time. Music is no longer owned, it’s leased from an overlord for the four minutes of its life, an overlord who can decide at the press of a button that the lease will no longer stretch to your geographic location. Music listening has changed: speed up, quality down. At least that’s how it feels. Yes, CDs got scratched, fitted maddeningly few songs, started to flake around the edges and drop bits of glitter all over your hands, but I look back on those times with pleasure. 

I realise this may well be my first foray into "it was all so much better in the past", and so despite all my grievances I know I'll always listen to music. How can I not, when the alternative is silence? After all, silence is only beautiful when it follows a beautiful album. 

in transit

faces raised to screens
eyes glazed at a hundred ways to leave,
and everywhere voices
with no bodies
and no souls.

and delays and layovers
that just go to show
that the waiting game has no rules
and not even really any players -
just waiters,
the bored, sick of their job ones,
who'll spit in your food
just to pass the time.

o tainted dove

o tainted dove
mere twin to winged vermin
destined to cast your doleful eye
upon all that is refused
and fallen.

no crutch for club foot,
nor shower for ruffled plume, 
you languish, wretched among beasts.

'lo as you swoop
wings held back, tiny head held high
a minute phoenix rises from sad dirt
glowing all shades of turquoise
and king of the air
for an instant –
for an instant
too short
o tainted dove,
too short by far! 
as club foot hits breadcrumb soil
you languish, wretched among beasts.

the politics of language

I know all the words to this city
but none of the actions to go with them.

Will different words
take me different places?
Do I greet in English
and give away my tourism?
Or stray into hometown Dutch,
and let my accent do the same?
Or pick up French,
that rusty fork of mine,
and prod people with that?
In three languages
I'm still lost for words.

I speak the language of everyone I could ever wish to speak to,
and order a beer.

in this city of writers, there’s not a notepad to be found.

in this city of writers
there’s not a notepad to be found.
it’s given birth to Mr Godot,
and old James Joyce,
but I’m banged up in this hotel room
with thoughts like a hundred moths
to a flame.

the walls stare down on me
mocking me with their blank canvases
socially out of reach.
Now, if I were famous and I wrote on a wall
they’d cut it out, frame it, charge people to see it.
But I’m not. Yet.
They’d probably charge me,
bill it to my room called something boring like
“room maintenance”
(even if it was a bloody good poem.)

So my tired, inspired eyes start to scan.
Tear open a teabag to write a tiny haiku
Or write stories along the streets of the tourist map
Or type a novel on one long roll of toilet paper.
But it wouldn’t be the same.

Outside, the trees tap the glass.
It’s 1-0 to them.
Tree beats human in this twisted artistic game of rock-paper-scissors.
Except there is no paper.
Just the white of the room,
white as the morning you wake up to find it’s snowed and you’re the first one out into the garden.
The shower curtain, 
the lampshade
the ironing board
and who the hell needs all these towels?!
all these things I cannot write upon
as if my thoughts in ink would make them worse
not better
as if there is no place for fledgling art in this world of ours

but there is
and like some poetic superhero
it seems its now up to me to give it that place back
So, with marker held between finger and thumb
I start:

"in this city of writers,"  I write
"there’s not a notepad to be found."