We’re in Scarborough. You’re the first one up, nipping for a paper. You’re wearing an unpleasant brown polo shirt mum got you from the catalogue. It accentuates your hardened gut. Everyone you pass smiles back at you. They always do. You get talking to someone about something. He finds you odd at first, your ease at slipping into lives for just a moment. But you’ll mark him with your levity, your charm and affability and you’ll move on before he wants you to. You buy The Daily Express. We don’t understand. I like to get my news from the other side too, you say. You comment on the headline to the man behind the counter. On the way back to our digs, you get talking to a woman with a yapping highland terrier. You’ve been a postman for years but dogs still don’t like you. You walk back through the door as if nothing has happened.
I Like Birds
My father was a postman.
He asked a woman
if she would save him envelopes
from letters her sister sent from Ceylon.
He brought them home to me
so I could soak stamps off.
I didn’t care if they were franked:
I made up calls for all of them,
me, a precocious virtuoso of exotic birdsong.
Mark Connors is a poet and novelist from Leeds. His poetry pamphlet, Life is a Long Song was published by OWF Press in 2015. His first collection, Nothing is Meant to be Broken was published by Stairwell Books in 2017. His second collection, Optics, was published by YAFFLE in 2019. His third collection is due out later in 2021. www.markconnors.co.uk.
Big Boy Rugby
Such a little thing
when another boy
rips off one of your Velcro tags
but you run to me sobbing
as though a strip of pride is gone.
I wipe your tears away
on my shoulder
turn you around
gently push you back into the game
where he waits wide-eyed
to stick the tag back on.
Daisy Draws a Picture of Me
Look, Daddy! It’s you!
And it is, as she sees me.
An enormous, shaven, potato-shaped head
dotted with stubble,
eyes further apart than mine
but unquestionably mine; they’re wide
like hers and Jack’s.
The nose is far daintier than mine,
mouth narrower, lips thinner, but smiling.
The body is my favourite part,
much slimmer than decades of good living
have heaped on my belly and waistline.
She’s even drawn a tuft or two of chest hair
sprouting from the neck of my shirt.
We’re both pleased with it.
Swimming in Backwell
He’s ready well before me, pale little body,
hopping from one foot to the other
as I stash valuables in my shoe.
I straighten his goggles, free the ear
bent double under the strap.
I’ve got my noodle, Daddy!
He waves the yellow foam tube at me.
Outside, it’s in the high 20s,
fields we drove past on our way here
are parched yellow by the roasting sun.
This clammy seventies building is cool,
it stinks of chlorine and feet
but there are no distractions,
no slides, no daft friends showing off.
It’s Prince Harry’s wedding day,
the pool’s deserted,
apart from us and a lifeguard.
I lower myself down the ladder.
Jack flings himself into the water,
shrieking at the temperature.
Come on then, let’s see you swim!
He tucks the noodle under his arms,
doggy-paddles away from me, feet splashing:
spladoosh, spladoosh, spladoosh
like the sound of good-sized pebbles
thrown into a canal from the towpath.
He turns and comes back to me,
neck straining and lips buttoned shut
against the water.
You did it!
He grins and does a little dance.
Can I do some jumping in now, as a treat?
I nod and his cry of delight echoes,
dives into our memories forever.
Ben Banyard lives in Portishead with his wife and nine-year-old twins. His third collection of poetry, Hi-Viz, will be published by YAFFLE later this year. Ben blogs at https://benbanyard.wordpress.com