Cut Loose (Dean and Michael) Sept 2016

Workshop with Michael Laskey and Dean Parkin. In their typical invitation to play, we were asked to write down a list of salaried occupations.  (‘No one said drug dealer, I notice’, said one. ‘But that’s not salaried!’)

Bouncer, was one of mine, and John gave us a most amusing rendition of being offered a job as Bouncer at the…. and now I’ve forgotten the name but I remember my and our laughter at each twist and turn.

(Inspired by Kenneth Koch’s Thank you:
Oh thank you for giving me the chance
Of being a ship’s doctor. I’m sorry that I shall have to refuse….)


I shall not be a doctor
Actually I knew as far back as
When my mother asked me
To pick out a splinter from
Her finger. I hid behind
The wing backed chair as she did it
‘You will never make a doctor’
She said, closing that option
At the beginning of my life.

Not surgeon then, or policeman.
Then they had to be tall.
I am genetically short
So that career path was
Closed to me, through
Circumstances outside
Of my control.

I am too late to be a
Professional footballer, physiotherapist,
Paediatrician, plasterer,
and most professions beginning with p
and come to think of it most other letters
Of the alphabet. Now.

There is something fine to be,
At last, limited to what
I can become, in this life,
Salaried any how.

Dean: Voyager took with it 10 sounds of human life, should another life form find, if it chance upon this space ship. Dean played us the sound of a mother kissing her baby.

  1. Doves, stock pigeons, cooing in the morning
  2. Sea water gently breaking again and again, over sand on Holkam beach, or rattling over pebbles at Mundsley
  3. Old men talking outside Woolworth’s
  4. Chalk scraping on a blackboard and outside the pure, high pitched playground laughter of children
  5. Girls singing ‘She’ll be coming round the mountain, when she comes’, to guitars strumming in the ambulate room
  6. Typewriter keys on an Imperial typewriter, the bell at the end of the line, then carriage return. Computer keys, clicking softly, metallically.
  7. Exotic bird song from a tropical forest in Africa. Bees in trees.
  8. An Indian train station announcement: ‘Train number 2458, Howra Express is running 12 hours late. We deeply regret the inconvenience caused’ Ter dum. Pukka Indian woman’s voice.
  9. Wind in oak trees, Kali barking, demanding a stick be thrown.
  10. Pens scribbling words at our writing workshop, paper shuffling, minds turning.

Someone else wrote, ‘Our mothers foot steps, coming closer.’


I remember once, in a desert
Lost, frightened, small
Coming across a water melon growing.
That gift of sweet water, harnessed
from another time when rain had come,
tasted like magic.

When shadows lengthen
When the earth axis tilts
Turning towards a darker time
The fruit, seeded in this years spring
blossomed in the noon of summer sun,
manifests in hedgerow gifts.
Blackberries, apples, haws,
And hazel nuts.


There they were:
Black, leather, Eco –
You always bought Eco –
On the kitchen floor
While you were not.

Oddly empty, with your
feet so particular:
flat footed, broad based,
carrying your bow legs
belly, and that great head
with shock of hair.

Pigeon toed, uneven,
Yet determined, even angry,
gait increasingly unsteady,
Burdened.  In the end
Reluctant to move,
Crossed under a chair.

Their empty form
Said all this.
Black, leather, Eco
on the kitchen floor.

Motor car

I used to curse caravans:
‘They ought to have an added tax’
I’d proclaim, as we, on Norfolk lanes
Resigned to rest behind one
going 40.

Ah the impatience of youth
Desirous to arrive, forgetting
the journey, quick
to be a Dick-tator

As I drive my home on wheels
Recalling this impatience
I pull over intermittently,
to let the faster world
over take, as I tootle along
at 40.


At an African border,
Waiting, as one does
I watched a woman
Gather what I had just
Spat out. Seeds of grapefruit.

Borders, mapped edges of land
where I have to stop
The planning mind,
Suspend the certainty.
Here others power
And identity prevail
My direction in the whim
Of hands to lift and drop
A passport through.

At the African border crossing
With the darkness of fires
And around organic sounds,
I was allowed to cross
while 2 Dutch cyclists were turned back,
back 20 miles on an African red track
‘You are old’, the border guard explained.


She was as obtuse as an ampersand, refusing to uncurl her story. Keeping it to herself, throwing out red herrings, as if fearful that we detach and put it in a dictionary, defined, boxed in. She thrived on ambiguity, metaphor and doubt.


Dean observed, with complement, that I was at the end of my notebook, full of words from the beginning. Yes, I remember Olivia Phillips, whose wrote to the very end of her exercise books and whose writing was as neat at the beginning as at the end, and such a skill over time, I admired, back then at school. I’ve arrived! So thank you Dean, I may not have noticed.

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