Uncompleted Partwork

It’s National Poetry Day. I’m a poet. It would be churlish not to contribute a poem. This comes with all kinds of trigger warnings.

I’m doing lines because I’m guilty.
Pissed about in hall
And mouthed off on the wall.
Found out by chalk dust on a trouser leg
I begged to be allowed to talk,
To say the thing I had to say,
That bullies mustn’t have their way.
But “not today”, and “not this week”,
“This paper, this apology, is all you get to speak.”

I’m doing lines because I’m guilty.
Snuck out the back again
And closed my eyes to count to ten
But hollow footsteps followed me.
I’ve borrowed all the freedom from tomorrow’s me
Now I just cadge a memory
Overlaid in powder
On a faded photograph of me.

I’m doing lines because I’m guilty.
A single piece of artwork
In an uncompleted partwork.
There’s a metronome of accusation where my heart was
A darkness filled with undeparted voices,
Choices other people made,
Pleasures that weren’t mine,
Pleasures that weren’t even pleasures
Just to kill some time.
I’ve done my lines.
I’ve done my time.
I may be guilty but I’m free
And finally I hear my own lips say “I’m fine.”

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