8 Days Remaining
John McCullough

Thursday 8th
posted by Morning Star in Britain

Well Versed is edited by JODY PORTER

the computer flattened her        
changed her name        to a dash        
a level rejection of the word        

most emphatically        all questions n/a        
she is elsewhere        aligned to bullets       
a flagrant interruption that hurls

the shindig sideways        fuses rival factions        
a cool stroke        unlatching windows        
spry horizontal running        down the middle of roads        

she wants no name        on her tombstone        
wishes to be remembered        as nothing
less than that intrepid burst        between the dates

R  O  C  K

The prom narrows when autumn breaks
but still offers opportunities

to escape an unmade bed and waft
by shells like commas, dulse curled like question marks.

A scraping sound that might be leftovers
swept from plates, ambition chipping at barnacles . . .

Small hands have heaped some stones and made a cairn.
The lonely windsurfer is out—drowsy moth—

and another crowd of lovely boys:
magpies who compile their weeks

from what shimmers. Studded belts, Gaga
and Grindr ignition between shifts at cafés,

their nights off a series of posters scratched away,
intangible as the ghosts fox-trotting over surf . . .

By a bench with an army green sleeping bag,
a rigid dogfish stares—confused, perhaps,

by the overbearing whiff of skunk
or the sound of Gary, jolting.

For him, each lamppost’s now a stick of rock,
the tarmac pink and gluey. He scrapes it  

off his trainers. No one likes rock here,
not even in the shop where they show you

how it’s made, the surly man kneading and stretching
white ropes of candy, again and again,

till the letters are fixed.



John McCullough was born in Watford in 1978. His first collection of poems The Frost Fairs (Salt) won the Polari First Book Prize for 2012. It was a Book of the Year for both The Independent and The Poetry School, and a summer read for The Observer. He has written commissioned poems for the British Museum and the British Film Institute, and his work has appeared regularly in publications including Poetry Review, Poetry London and the Best British Poetry series.

Well Versed is edited by Jody Porter –
Connect with Well Versed on Facebook.

Related Articles