Bobby Parker’s Digging for Toys

 
 
 
Bobby Parker was born in 1982 in Kidderminster, England. He crawled his way through nightmares and freak shows to bring you these poems and stories. Bobby was selected as Purple Patch Small Press Poet of the Year in 2008, and his work has been published in various magazines in print and online.
 
 
 
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Especially If It’s Raining

   
 
I am the man talking to himself at the bus stop,
pockets full of charity shop trinkets, watching
a breeze toy with summer skirts, telling
stories that end abruptly, like relationships.
 
Pigeons love me. Pigeons make sense, you know,
they are always asking questions and stumbling
into the road. Don’t feed them: it’s enough to
acknowledge their plight. Let them peck your boots.
 
My head is full of crazy cartoon characters
chasing vampires and slipping on banana peels.
I don’t make eye-contact with pretty girls.
 
When I speak to myself it confuses people but
people are easily confused, especially if they work
hard at a job they hate. Especially if it’s raining.
 
And when I go home to a haunted house
you better believe I’ve had enough: those terrible
faces staring from the number ten bus
tell me more than my therapist ever could.
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
Just Blue
 
 
If there were no sick days
clinging to doorways and hallways
from bedroom to bathroom
to trim a ginger beard and stare
at blue towels, I would choose
that peach scented invitation
to follow you home and fall over.
Comb a few cheap words
through your hair.
Fix your record player.
But my mind is broken.
My days are spent folding
sheets and pillows
into the shape of sleeping bodies.
Listening to my neighbours having sex.
I could pick up the phone
if my hands didn’t feel so at home
flicking the lights on and off.
For every car that passes the window
a shadow runs around the room
and hides behind an empty chair.
It reminds me of someone …
This is what it takes to be a sick
writer in a demon part of town
waiting for you waiting for you.
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
The Silent Man 
 
 
Our line drifted in the rolling humps
of green sea below the pier. Dad smoked
a stinking cigarette, indifferent, my moody
monosyllabic hero. The line tightened,
I slowly pulled a twitching crab
into our silent world and up
onto the pier, its pincers rattling on the cement.
We looked at it for a while. The sun
skipped off seawater puddles
and grinned inside my empty bucket.
We didn’t know how to pull out the hook.
Dad cursed under his breath and nudged
the stupid crab with one of his holiday shoes.
He lifted it into the air. My mother
watched us from the beach, waving as she took
a photograph of father and son
holding a blurred problem between them.
He tossed the crab into the bucket
along with the line and the orange handle
and when he sighed, I sighed
and when the sky darkened, dad’s face
darkened, and when the rain touched my face
he lit another cigarette and started walking.

 

*
 
 
 
Holy 
 
 
I’d like to explain my friend John.
 
He is borderline autistic and doesn’t seem to know right
from wrong.
 
His hair is long and dyed purple-black. His clothes smell
like rotting fish. Sometimes he turns up with hundreds of
pounds in his pocket and no idea where he got the money.
 
When he laughs it is a small miracle, like fumbling a glass of
wine and catching it midair without missing a beat.
 
He let me see the inside of his house for the first time the
other day. We have always wondered what it might be like
in there.
 
It is mostly empty – John sells almost anything of value so
he can maintain a steady supply of sweets and energy
drinks.
 
The living room has a single bed facing an old television.
His three hundred pound mother sits propped against the
pillows eating nachos all day.
 
There is a picture of Bart Simpson (half coloured in) on the
wall above the bed, pinned there, John said, since he drew it
when he was four years old.
 
The kitchen is full of yellowed comic books and empty pizza
boxes.
 
John has had girlfriends in the past, but when I’ve seen him
with them he just hugs them tightly and stares into the
distance, seldom speaking, and only then to express his
desire to own the products advertised on television.
 
Girls sense a moody sensitivity in John at first, and then
they realise something isn’t right with him.
 
He has the names of three different girls tattooed on his
arms.
 
He nearly killed himself over the last girl who broke up
with him. I don’t think he understands how final death is,
that The Simpsons are not real.
 
John had nowhere to live for a while, so we put him up on
our sofa. At night we barricaded our bedroom door with the
junk we keep under the bed.
 
He used to carry a huge hunting knife tucked into his jeans
until I confiscated it.
 
I don’t think he would hurt anybody, but I wouldn’t like to
put a bet on that; not that he’s evil or anything, he is kind of
holy, not knowing right from wrong makes him rather pure.
 
The other day I asked him to bring me a bottle of beer and
he came back with washing up liquid.
 
I keep thinking of a photograph I saw beside his mother’s
bed, John as a baby; it makes me so sad that my jaw aches.
 
I have a weakness for outsiders, strays and weirdos. They
deserve happiness just like the rest of us, except too many
people feel they can make life difficult for people like John
because they don’t understand him.
 
Well, John is good company if you don’t mind long silences,
if you want someone to agree with everything you say and
if you need to compare yourself with someone who is truly
lost.
 
Not lost in the way that we’re all trying to be found by
something we can’t quite describe, but lost in the sense that
sometimes angels lose their way, and wander the earth with
confused eyes, like a dog spooked by something banging in
the distance.
 
 
 
from Digging For Toys (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2011).
 
Order Digging for Toys.
 
 
 
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