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Bedrooms

This is a musty bedroom.  

There are weird porcelain heads  

on the dresser, they spook me.  

The bedding is damp 

the patchwork quilts  

give bad dreams.  

The house has old pipes  

that vocalise all night,  

clunking and wheezing  

like a bad case of asthma.  

I suppose it’s better than  

homelessness. In the dark 

you can’t feel the lies

that brought us here.  

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Drive

The drive along the motorway 

is cramped. 

But I’ll remember it. 

It is the first time

for simply ages

that Mother has smiled.

Beaten off the perpetual sadness

that has ruined her face.

We suck barley-sugars

so we don’t get car-sick.

She tunes in the radio

as the city creeps closer. 

I wish this would never end.

Twelve

I’m not allowed to swim. 

Because of my asthma. 

I sit on the sand, 

cocooned in beach towels,

growling about my human rights. 

Mother lavishes on the suncream, 

which is very tickly. 

There is no sun. 

There never has been any sun. 

This is a shit-hole. 

Beaches

He used to love beach walks. 

But I hated sand. 

The way it got between your toes. 

A funereal beach walk, 

taking the air, 

wetting your toes in the tide.

He grew excited by sea shells 

and breaking surf. 

He had this way 

of pointing out landmarks,

full of himself, 

like he was the creator of coastlines.

I humoured him.

Broken

Dinners by the sea.

Where we shuffle our cutlery.

Barely eat.

Watch the tasteless walls. 

After the awkward silences,

the clinking of ice, 

I watch Mother pickling her mind.

So she doesn’t have to talk 

with the man who’s broken her soul.  

There’s no way to mend her. 

She’s too broken for that. 

Alicia

I am writing a log  

of Father’s foot-in-mouth moments.  

They are many.  

Sometimes he just stands  

in my doorframe  

and leers stupidly at me.  

He has no cool.  

Doesn’t know what I’m going through.  

I slam the door.   

Once I’m eighteen  

I’m absolutely out of here.  

They can go boil their heads.  

Mother is more drugged up  

than a pharmacy.  

She is positively sad.  

I will not be like her.   

Although she has a kind of broken beauty.  

A past-its-sell-by-date tragic loveliness.   

Tim

Syrupy pancakes. My favourite.

And snowy meringues.

I like to sing when I make.

Mother says it’s beautiful.

You have a gift, she says.

She is always so serious, sad,

and she doesn’t make sense.

She goes all slurry, so the words

don’t have shapes, like when

I was young. I think she might

have some disease and isn’t saying.

I’m scared.