Confessions of a food thief
The day I stole your tastebuds was the best.
After that, I could do anything. I slipped
horsemeat into burgers, flung the odd rat
into your ragu. Every little helps.
Sauce is everything. Splash a little spice,
inject the perfect compound, and you think
all your Christmases have come at once.
I sold you a certain shade of red,
uniformity of portions. Remember the tomatoes
your dad grew, that exploded in your mouth
like liquid rubies? I swapped them for
the taste of cardboard. You never noticed.
Chickentown beckons you back, its satellites
bleached out, more grey than noir.
After the driving bass, relentless drums,
the tracks fade out. The stage lights dim.
You pace your edge of no escape. Sing
Warsaw, but your earworm’s Macclesfield.
All those domestic details. Baby clothes.
A washing line across the kitchen.
A bedroom colder than your conversation.
To be torn apart, you only need yourself.
East End promise
You must live in Gooseley Lane, the doctor murmured
when we wheeled the kids in, limbs swelling
from bites we’d not seen before, that trickling
summer when the stench wound like a bandage.
Friends commented, when we moved, it doesn’t
sound much like East London, you imagine farmyards,
mists swirling from the river, bucolic scenes
maybe painted once by Constable.
The marshes have deferred to sullen semis,
the once-Norman church that no-one goes to
stranded, an obelisk in its graveyard
full of foxes gorging on McDonalds
while the turds of half a world are funnelled
down the Northern Outfall Sewer, a feat
of faecal engineering not once mentioned
by the agent who talked up the house,
but whiffed each time the sun shone, sniffed
with backyard barbecues and ghetto blasters,
police helicopters and unending traffic
on the Newham Way. And bubbling under,
the cauldrons of the capital, festering
and fetid, simmering us together
in an equality of rank, breeding a plague
of panic-sized mosquitoes.
Julian Dobson lives in Sheffield. He won a school prize for handwriting at the age of 10 and hasn’t looked back. His poetry blog is at https://52poemsinayear.wordpress.com.