Peculiar Times (Pre-Pandemic)

We live in peculiar times:

we start a new ashtray in a plastic yoghurt pot
instead of emptying the big glass one
that’s fit for purpose but overflowing,
then repeat until your entire room
has turned into one giant tray of ash;

rely too heavily on answers
garnered from an upturned glass
shifting gracelessly across a ouija board;

take 133 tablets of psychiatric medicine every week
and still feel so terribly unwell, like
if your brain doesn’t kill you first then kidney failure will;

wonder how you still have room
for all the painkillers, vitamins and narcotics
that also allege to make you feel better
but take them anyway, then hear them
rattle inside you whenever you move;

we speak Nadsat without realising,
then are surprised and disappointed
when others don’t understand;

judge people based on the type, style and colour
of the material covering their feet
and be cruel to strangers
solely because of their eyebrow shape;

wake up totally exhausted after 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep;

feel more inspired standing outside the house
that your favourite writer killed herself in
than at the house in which she lived;

live and die without a single person knowing you;

drink a can of coke and then eat a mento mint
and marvel at the fact that your stomach hasn’t exploded;

take our old selves for granted and then kick ourselves
when we discover that we’ve lost our best self and can’t get her back;

feel offended about every. single. thing. all. of. the. time.;

cause offense to those who think you should be offended and are offended that you are not;

cause offense by opening our mouths / cause offense by keeping our mouths shut;

buy a pack of 500 bobby pins and only have 6 left in your possession two weeks later;

go from an immense feeling of relief
when the pregnancy test is negative
to an immediate sense of utter horror
when you realise that if you’re not pregnant
then you’ve just gotten fat;

drive to the middle of nowhere and engage in primal scream therapy;

throw away the (perfectly good) first and last slices of a loaf of bread
but pick green fur off the remaining slices;

feel unreasonably angry that the picked-at bread
is taking so bloody long to turn to toast under the broken amber grill;

hear our friend’s voice from behind us say with such solemn sagacity,
“A watched bread never toasts,” and laugh and laugh and laugh

until you smell burning. We repeat, ad nauseam.


Originally published by Mausoleum Press (August 2021)
Read the whole issue here.


  1. A real delight, this. I’ve been avoiding WP like the plague–an ironic thought in these plague years–and find myself tickled to find a substantial collection of your stunning and insightful–inciteful?–pommes weighing heavily on your branches. Thanks for sharing.

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