It’s Thursday morning. I’m at the Uni early,
sending emails from a free computer
to poets in Kentucky, Michigan, New York.

This black kid’s talking to a pink-skinned kid
with spots, and twisting teenage angst.
The former’s got a gold chain round his neck,

and a giant watch. He’s doing all the talking.
“If you want it, man, you gotta work for it.
I want it all: the house, the car, the swimming pool.”

It's thirty years since Thatcherism, and still they talk
that crap. Nothing marks you out more clearly
for a life of scrubbing round for pence.

I’ve got to get away from them. In the canteen,
Deutschland’s sitting by himself, ipod wires dangling,
a metal band like ants brawling in his earphones.

Then Jess comes, armed with Lucozade and Skittles,
and Martyna, due in three months, sits and sighs.
We all agree that we’re too tired for class.

Jess shows the sandwiches her mother made.
They’re wrapped at least twice round in clingfilm.
“My Mummy loves me,” she beams, carefully unwrapping.

Martyna dreamt she gave birth to a girl
in a hard cocoon, but with the mouth stuck out.
It was more a snout, she smiles, but wet enough for kisses.

She takes her pad and draws a half-thumb shape,
with piggy nose and wide, believing eyes.
“My baby,” she says, as if she’s worrying

she might really have this little alien.
We laugh, and I move sideways for the cleaner,
who’s sweeping up our crumbs. I say thanks,

and sorry. I don’t like people picking up for me.
The young socialists at the window table
boom with laughter as she brushes round them.

I’m remembering my mum, and the better, fairer world
she worked for. It won’t come from those spoiled brats.
Or me, the willow on the quad accuses.

                                   - February 2011/ April 2013


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