It’s for the boy everyone looks at who hates it.
For the beautiful girl whose baby they took.
For the wasted, the wretched and the cowards;
the bullies, the ball-breakers and the bastards,
the ones we’ll always hate for what they did to us.
For the watchers and the watched, the scribblers,
the stalkers, the stale couples who can’t be bothered
to argue anymore; for the dribblers, the scratchers,
the fidgets and the fibbers, the covert nose-pickers,
snot flickers; the fickle lovers and the fashionistas,
the smokers, the skint, the minted with no imagination.
It’s for the disowned, the dead-eyed, the family hiding
from the bailiffs, crouched behind the sofa in the dark;
the sanctioned and hand-tied, the frustrated administrators;
the blank woman behind the counter in Barclays yesterday.
For the mermaids on knives who can’t hold a tune.
For the insomniac Sleeping Beauties, the Match Girls
not so little any more – for the one who leaves
her heart in a boy’s coat pocket and freezes
to death trying to remember why she can’t go home.
For the boy nobody ever looks at who hates it.
For the idiots, the masochists, the kids squeezing their spots.
Those cursed with true faith and those cursed with cynicism.
The fucked up and the upwardly fucking mobile,
the wannabes and the want-not-to-be-ever-agains.
It’s for the Social Workers, the social-networkers, the socially suicidal,
the Tweeters, twerkers, text fiends and the blink-eyed tweens
clambering shaky ladders to see what adulthood looks like.
For the view from the top showing only another level beyond.
For the girl with the credit card bills in the biscuit tin.
The boy with the dirty habits and the love he’s scared of.
For the disapproving parents, the bewildered, the bereft,
for the just-one-more plea to the barman calling “Time”.
For the independent woman with the scented candles
and the Tesco Value blades on the side of her bathtub.
It’s for the black-iced step that sprains your ankle,
the broken bottle that really is that sharp when you stroke
your curious lip to its edge. It’s for the temptation
to do the stupid things.
It’s for that man down the road with the old whippet
and the sad smile whose name you can never remember,
for the person you’d like to batter with an axe – or forget.
For the nights when you’d welcome that axe
over your own damned head.
For the queue in the offie, the moral police officer no one trusts;
the hopeless and helpless, the unbelievable, the implausible,
the strangest drips of truth; for the things no one will ever know.
For the terminally cool and the terminally unique;
the woman quoting Lady Macbeth in the launderette;
the addicts, the romantics, the worldly-wise morons;
the nail biters, the bar-fighters, the leg men,
the breast men, the worst who don’t know
they’re the best men. For the sleepers lying alone
in carbon monoxide quiet who never said goodnight.
This is not a lovely poem, but it’s theirs – and ours.