Friday, 12 December 2014


The Penny Still Inn was quiet,
Like a removed stomach.

Shyly, Penny was still in in her make-believe pharmacy,
Checking penicillin was still in,
To fill in, her imaginary friend,
Gaspar clinks bottles in the lab behind her.

Her behind is where we find her self-esteem is at its lowest point.
Sometimes she will anoint her left buttock with oil of cloves and melted Camembert.
Her neck is frequently sore from looking over her shoulder at her arse in a full-length mirror,
Frowning at her pallid, plump cheeks bulging above her thighs,
Prodding herself with a finger, fantasising, she sighs.

It wasn’t her fault she’d become a recluse,
With her oppressive upbringing, she’d never been let loose.
Nor was she guided well as a captive youth,
She’d been indoctrinated with dysfunctional values—that was the truth.

Until her possessive, alcoholic father was murdered by a gang of bagpipe salesmen,
She’d only known life in one house,
With her father for company, the radio and a pet woodlouse.

Urged by her father to design tartan-based wallpapers,
To impress his traffic warden friends,
Her childhood days were weird and full of misery,
She thought they’d never end.

A sympathetic policeman tried to help her once,
Soon after her father’s death,
She found him very attractive despite his horrendous breath,
She offered to polish the metallic parts of his helmet—an offer he refused,
Enraged, she spat in his face feeling that she’d been used.

Since then—so many lonely years—she’d been through so much:
Self-harm, selotape fetishes and losing her virginity on her old rabbit hutch,
Mail-order scams, arson involving mattresses and (mercifully empty) prams,
Overcoming her various addictions: to seafood, serrated edges and jams.

I’m not bad for my age, she thinks, then, suddenly, she’s in a rage,
She doesn’t know how old she is, she really has no clue.
Nor whether she’s a Buddhist or an orthodox feminist Jew.
She knows her shoe size (5 and 6) and that blue is her favourite colour.
But why the days are the length they are is still beyond her grasp.

She feels scarred tissue on her wrist giving it a nervous clasp,
Hyperventilating, poised between arousal and panic, pacing in her dimly lit room,
Occasionally, she feels euphoric—mostly, a sense of doom.

Mice and lice share her abode,
Conveniently, for her provisions, there’s a shop across the road,
Run by a very short man with a face like a diabetic toad.
He flirts with her and winks all the time she’s in his store,
She smiles at him politely, sensing he’s after more.

‘I’ll never go to bed with you,’ she shouts at him one day.
‘But it’s just in case you snore!’
Taken aback, reddening, he gasps and stares at the floor.
So much for the last seventeen years, he bitterly reflects,
So much for their fantastic rapport.
All his wasted efforts, he mourns, now he knows he’s not wanted any more.

‘I’ll kill you with a staple-gun,’ he screams. ‘You wicked, fucking whore!’
Stunned by the spontaneity of his fury, she doesn’t each the door,
In time to evade the short man’s attack—first, he staples shut her eyes!
Before cutting off her tits and things, ignoring all her cries.
So by offending a maniac shopkeeper, she creates the way she dies,
Unless, of course, all of this is just a bunch of lies.