Three Bad Dreams by Bobby Parker


A machine that you go into as a pig and come out a sausage


The sausage looked so lonely


in the chip shop window


I had to buy it.


But I made a mistake


because the sausage was evil.


As soon as I unwrapped the soggy paper


I knew


this was a diabolical purchase.


I just get that spooky feeling about stuff


sometimes.


Like our German room-mate’s


well-worn Birkenstocks.


Bastard things in the world.


I carefully placed the greasy sausage


onto a clean plate that was still


a bit wet from the dishwasher.


It looked fine.


It smelled fine.


I threw it away and left the room.


That’s when it spoke to me,


with a voice like a chewed-up dog toy


squeaking in the depths


of the kitchen bin.


Do you want to know what it said?


No, of course you don’t.


No one wants to hear


what an evil sausage


has to say.


I did find, however, if you pay attention


to such phenomena


you can access the truth.


You sense the wickedness


in your surroundings


and the cruelty


in your neighbours.


At least, that’s what I thought


until Sock Head told me


they arrested Henry:


‘Why do you think


he always stayed with friends


who have small children…’


I threw up yellow string


by the side of the road


and started worrying


about everyone I know.


Were they evil?


I couldn’t tell any more.


That’s when I walked by the chip shop


and saw that godforsaken sausage.


I was vulnerable, you see.


The thought of carrying a device


that connects us


to more human suffering


than the brain


can possibly process


suddenly appeared to me


as a severed head


floating


through an empty supermarket.


I was feeling guilty


for neglecting my family.


My poor nan has been waiting


months for me to visit.


She lives two streets away


from the chip shop


in a small flat


full of fake cats


curled up


in cute little baskets.


She used to paint the same ugly horse


over and over again.


Never told us its name.


Maybe I’ll go see her tomorrow.


I need more information


about the beast she sees


creeping out of the asphalt.


It's my favourite story.


Nan loves telling that one,


her flimsy hands mauling the air


as she rises out of her rocker,


showcasing the scene


with effortless


B-movie


grace.



'I’m such a bad friend’.  



I was sitting under my desk in the garage,


smoking weed through a clay skull bong,


when I saw Frank’s tattooed legs


stagger up the sunlit driveway


and collapse in my chair.


He looked haunted.


Things must be really bad, I thought,


for Frank to come here.


Even when we were friends


we rarely saw each other.


Feeling silly, I pretended


to be a groaning zombie,


rising from behind


my cluttered desk,


which made him nervous.


‘How are you?’ I asked, searching for a lighter.


‘How are you?’ He mimicked, folding his arms.


I gently raked my fingers


across the brick wall,


imagining sparks.


The ice cream van went by


cranking its creepy old stories.


Maybe it was a Sunday


because there was a sad stillness


and I could hear bells.


I was about to apologise


when Frank said, ‘I can’t stop


watching horrible things.


It’s like they’ve built a nest in my brain


and now the wires are tangled.’


I think he was talking about porn,


but he might have been talking


about the news.


‘Does this mean you’re angry with God?’


I was being mischievous.


I’ve never met anyone who believes in God


the way Frank believes in God.


I took my hat off to show him


how much hair I’m losing.


‘Remember when we were kids…’ I said.


‘Remember when we were kids…’ He repeated.


Frank tried to remove his enormous black shirt


which seemed to grow bigger


the more he struggled.


I don’t know if he expected me to help.


It was too hot to expect anything.


Then both of us were trapped


in his black shirt, as it swallowed


my garage and covered the house.


‘Are you lost?’ I shouted


into Frank’s billowing blackness.


‘Because I want to tell you


my side of the story.’



Your application for Personal Independence Payment has been declined



I was racing through the park


in a stolen wheelchair


on the hottest day of the year


when I saw


your chronic pain


on the playing field


throwing tennis balls


for the neighbourhood dogs.


It had a seemingly


endless supply


which it plucked


from what looked like


a body bag.


I was disgusted with myself


for using again.


My spit was thick and sticky


from eating


too many oranges.


A little girl was flying


a kite that wasn’t actually a kite


it was a bad-tempered doctor


biting the clouds.


A gang of shirtless boys


armed with axes and hammers


were merrily destroying


the new playground.


I thought I saw my parents


buried waist deep


in the sandpit


shrieking like seagulls.


I emptied a bottle of water over my head


hoping it would bring me


closer to you.


When that didn’t work


I gathered broken glass


from the forgotten basketball court


and put the pieces in my mouth.


Late afternoon sun


dripped like morphine


through the shivering trees.


Your pain was so impressive


even the ice cream man


was crying.


__________________________


Bobby Parker was born in 1982 in Kidderminster, Worcestershire. His debut poetry collection Blue Movie (2014) is available from Nine Arches Press. He has taught at The Poetry School and been widely published in print and on-line. Working Class Voodoo, his latest collection, was published in 2018 by Offord Roads Books.