Thursday, October 15, 2020

 Exit Left 



And if they are all right 
and I am all wrong, 
Im worth nothing more 
than a nine-to-five 
turning keys in dead 
-letter boxes 

and its all been ego 
all this time, nothing more 
than little-baby screams 
from a big boys mouth 
 then all you do is  

set me free. Convinced 
of my own worthlessness 
and of no use or wit to anyone, 
why stick around  
to see through the movie? 
Someone always dies 
at the end, so it might as well 

be me. My only present 
comfort is knowing 
that another little name 
will be added to a very long list, 
a roll of dishonour for all of us 
who dishonoured life 
by walking out before 
the credits, terminally unimpressed 

by the colours, lights, hopes 
and dreams.  

A life whose shadows 

fall far enough, we are told,  
to allow us to share 
the stage with the terminally 
blessed, born to beauty 
and grace. We must be grateful 
for that weak little shade 
cast from the great ones 
who bask in the closed-set lights, 

glad of our chance to hold out 
their coats when they smile 
onto the stage; 

and all my fellow failures 
rise to applaud as one. 

Ian Mullins 







One of these days, 
when every drop of rain 
is an Atlantic ocean 
and I am drowned so slowly 
that drowning 
might be mistaken for living, 
breathing, walking out 
in the world, 

I will walk to the edge of the sea 
and just keep walking, 


because every day 
is one of those days: 
and with each one 
I step closer to the real, 
unimagined sea, the soft sweet 
breathlessness of drowning 

saying come chain your bones 
to those broken before you 
and together we will bind 
the oceans to smother the land 

and all find the peace 
of our dreaming.

Ian Mullins 








Too much damage 
over too many years 
and now nothing 
is still; every atom 
agitates, every eyeball 
in flight or fright. 

Bones are an old bicycle 
with shattered spokes,  

skin a white sheet 
splattered with rust.  

It’s in here  


all the good work 

is undone, where every lash 
is self-inflicted.  

A loud vacuum 
screaming in a space 

where only the town crier 
hears the town’s cries, 
while the citizens themselves 
can do nothing. They have 
their own funerals to arrange. 
Ian Mullins 





Skin tears at me again; 

and the only way to appease it 

is to feed it, give it 

more skin to sandpaper, 

more dust to be hoovered  

until the bag needs emptying  

again. Surely it's gathered 

enough seed to shape 

a new me? An improved model 

that can communicate 

with other devices and laugh 

away life, be bemused by dust:  

not sit scratching itself  

into ever-tinier seeds  

that don't care how they grow. 

Ian Mullins 







Sort it he said, 

so I worked through 

the paper pile 

dry as last week's confetti 

and there she was: 


I'll kill myself 

on the fourteenth 

if I don't hear from you. 


Her claim was closed 

on the seventeenth. 

Perhaps three days of hope 

was three more 

than she could bear; 

three days waiting for  

envelopes to drop like  

stillborn calves littered  

in a pen. 


Doesn't say how she died. 

Maybe posting that letter 

only booked her a few more days 

of fuss and fret 

she could have lived without. 


Or maybe she screamed 

and suffered, the way 

we all probably will in the end. 


I passed him the papers. 

Sorted I said. 

Ian Mullins 




Not Long Now  



It ends here, 

in the most distant corner 

of the charity shop 

behind the brushes and 

the brooms, 

where the warped 45s 

I haven't listened to 

for almost as many years 

will lie flat in the sun 


waiting for old people 

to leaf through them 

as though looking through 

sheaves of other people's photos 

in the hope that they might 

spot a face, someone 

they once thought they knew. 


A face that says 

ignore me; 

I'm only passing through. 

Ian Mullins 








Helpless I do not know if good intentions prevail among the elected, among the appointed, leaving me apprehensive that the fate ...