Orpheus and the Umbroworld
into the umbroworld
of trackie bottoms
and replica tops,
ragged running shoes
and knee-length socks,
of shell-suited overstocks,
the slow shuffle of dead souls
with their tatty dreams
of sunday morning goals,
deadly crossfield passes
and hacky sack skills.
He slays three-headed
Cerberus behind the tills,
who blows bubble gum balloons
from three sullen mouths,
and finds sweet Eurydice
wrapped up in sports towels.
Unlooking, he unravels,
ushers her back through
the aisles of Sportsworld,
past gumshields and goggles
and tennis ball canisters,
under the Gods’ watchful eye,
Nike and Adidas.
But, in the security screen
on the threshold,
the face of Eurydice,
he accidentally beholds
and she is suddenly gone
from him forever,
lost in the folds
of a thousand
Poundland Cashier Number Four
And I will hasten down aisles,
avoiding skyscraper piles
of Tommy Walsh Mini-Screwdriver sets,
bubble-gum flavoured cartridges for e-cigarettes,
the dustied, desperate overstocks
of a hundred Pam St Clement canvas clocks,
the lunchboxes, kitchen roll and other millions
of godforsaken products infested by minions,
and yesterday’s shelf-stacked opinions
of Colin, recently appointed store assistant manager,
who, as he extols the virtues of stock rotation,
seems, at long last, to have reached his true vocation.
I will hurtle past these and so much more
for the merest glimpse
of Poundland cashier number four.
And I will speed down the aisles,
thunder past the rows of Jeremy Kyle’s
still remaining remaindered autobiography,
Disney Frozen lip balm (five for the price of three),
twin packs of glue-on false eyelashes,
and neglected sets of fake, funny moustaches.
And I will use my mobility scooter as a chariot
to proceed like a prince through the proletariat,
ready to defend with shield of sturdy cardboard,
a tube of non-stick Baco foil will be my shining sword.
For I will fight all others to the floor
should they get in the way of me
and Poundland cashier number four.
And now I’m here, I’ll wait as long as it takes,
even if she’s off again on one of her fag breaks.
in the supermarket of her love life,
she rummaged in the rubble of reduced items,
looking for something edible,
if perhaps not entirely credible
in the bagging area of her bed,
she found the unexpected item of Fred
Step out of Christmas
Phil got a job in security
At his local shopping centre.
Phil had always been enthralled by malls
So he’d never been contenter.
He loved his job, the pay, the power,
To be lord of all he surveyed,
Until that day, in mid-July,
When the Christmas songs were played.
At first he found it quite funny,
Imagine, Christmas in July!
But his tolerance began to wane
As the days and months went by.
August, September, came and went,
As did October and November,
And in all that time, a Yule-free day
Was not something he could remember.
By December, Phil was a bag of nerves,
Had his fill of Elton and Noddy and Roy.
He couldn’t bear to hear one more song
Being piped through the tannoy.
Phil wanted to roast Santa’s chestnuts,
Deliver Rudolph a bloodied nose
Torture Cliff and hear him whine
Whilst he chopped off his mistletoes.
In the end it was little Aled Jones
Who tipped Phil over the edge,
Walking in the air for the first and last time
He stepped off from the mall roof ledge.
few knew what lay in store
it started (as such things always do)
with the haberdashers
where reckless price slashers
offered ten per cent off
cerise beading trimming
and soon the place
was full to brimming
as the prices lowered
the tension rose
resulting in a bloodied nose
by the children’s clothes
over in winter wear,
a couple of kerfufflers
turned to scufflers
over discounted mufflers
and there was more fighting
amongst the table lighting
as a shopper got lamped
and then put in the shade
there was carnage in the cardigans,
burnings in home furnishings,
a fracas near the nail lacquer
and a murderous mascara massacre
into luggage leaked mustard gas
and the worst case scenario
came to pass
thirty-five shoppers malled to death
who lost their lives in the fray,
the casualties of consumption
to be remembered on Black Friday
what you can buy online nowadays,
adding the Democratic Republic of the Congo
to her basket
she wasn’t prepared to pay the extra
for same day delivery, though
The One Pound Emporium
EVERYTHING COSTS A POUND!
Declared the One Pound Emporium
WITH PRICES TO CONFOUND!
You’d be a fool to be ignoring ’em.
Two Packs of Duracell Triple-A batteries?
ONLY A POUND!
Twenty-one Prairie Bog Organic Cranberries?
ONLY A POUND!
Watering Can with Adjustable Nozzle?
ONLY A POUND!
Genuine Million Year Old Sperm Whale Fossil?
ONLY A POUND!
Three Packets of Sherbet Dip Shoestrings?
THAT’S JUST A POUND!
A Guide to Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Musings?
TO YOU – A POUND!
A Signed Photograph of Kris Akabusi?
JUST A POUND!
A Thirteen-Jet Trojan Party Disco Jacuzzi?
STILL A POUND!
A Sticklebrick Play Train?
John Constable’s Haywain?
A First Edition of Papillon?
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon?
A woman called Ruth?
The concept of truth?
A stray dog enclosure in which you can stow ’em?
The author of many a modernist poem?
But then the 99p Store
Opened next door
And nobody wanted to know anymore.
She would write
little poems for me,
and scatter them
around the house,
like unexpected confetti.
these notes of seduction
2 tins toms, read one,
Cuc x 3, caulie, bread rolls.
Dead Sea Scrolls
would be decidedly
I came to adore
these lettres d’amour,
and would secretly clamour
for their post-it-note
Boiler on blink. Phone man.
Dinner in dog
not the prettiest
was one of her
I hate you
And I hate your stupid face.
I am leaving you.
was the pinnacle,
and so clinical.
Such a shame
shortly after that.
A Fine Afternoon’s Work
I said I’ll have a plate
Of your finest platitudes
With a side serving of insouciance,
Easy on the relish.
My custom no longer welcome
At Chicken Cottage,
I moved on in pursuit of other fowl to fry,
Three pound twenty
And a paraffin lighter
Burning a hole in my pocket.
Crowds had gathered
In front of Fred’s Discount Store.
30% off lilac and lemon Pringle sweaters
Was proving quite a draw.
I resisted the impulse.
My attention was roughly grabbed
And hauled into Help the Caged,
A new charity shop
Committed to ending the plight
Of budgerigars the world over,
Inside which I rapidly parted with my money.
Cooking with Charlie Dimmock and
A cassette tape of The Blow Monkeys
Sing Songs from the Shows,
My spoils of war.
I hurried home.