Sole Man

I am 45,
ride a pushbike,
wear a gabardine raincoat,
belonged to my Dad,
never washed.
I live with my mum over the fish and chip shop.
Like the batter on the haddock
my mother’s love clings to me,
dripping with excess.
I am floppy under its power.

I tried to escape.
Had a job, briefly.
Three hours a day in the University library,
shelving books.
Parked my bike outside,
hung my coat in a little room.

Surrounded by books I thought they would speak to me,
help me with my novel.
The books, mutely, kept their secrets,
but the others whispered, “He smells of fish”.
Alluring, sensuous, siren-like as you pass the chippie,
but, not a popular scent on a man.

Walked out one day
when I shelved a book in the Sociology section, entitled
‘Potatoes: Their Place in Marxist Peasant Ideology’.

Did I mention I have greasy hair?

How could I escape?

Nell, from across the road, came for her usual
‘Don’t-forget-the-scraps’ Friday supper.
She found my mum on the floor


Malcolm Henshall  [Revised September 2020]

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One Response to Sole Man

  1. I like this one, Malcolm – humour tinged with a little gore!


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