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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


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


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



'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.


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