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.