Chris McLoughlin – SST8 Headline First Draft

11 Jan

The First Draft

So, after two free-writes and some development within the Mouthy Poets sessions, the first draft is ready.

I’m happy with some of the humour used, however at the moment I feel the message of the poem is lost in the last stanza – so that will be something I work on! Also, the whole poem needs to be tightened (I didn’t want to do this prematurely, and potentially cut off some good ideas).

Over the next few weeks, I’ll work on making the poem a bit more concise, a bit more expressive, and a lot more focussed. Also, I have been performing my other work at Poetry nights, and am starting to get more confidence on stage, which has triggered me starting to think about how the poem will be performed – I’m thinking perhaps using costume (a black suit, black tie and white shirt perhaps?) for jumping into different characters.

Other things to consider include how the poem looks on the page, as it will be part of a zine sold at the SST8.

Estimated Time:

3-5 Minutes


A maze of cardboard boxes,

curtains closed to children laughing outside.

In between the leaning tower of pizza boxes

and the dust covered photo frames,

in a pile of probate forms and mortgage overdues,

lies a closed notebook.

I stare, and it stares back,

wondering which words would

convey a person who used to be here

but isn’t.

‘Dearest’, ‘Forever’, ‘Beloved’

but it’s not real,

just a thesaurus trying to feel,

so I retreat to the fridge for another beer

hidden behind old takeaways cartons

and an expired pot of jam.


And I remember

Tesco’s in September

With a new group of friends.

The Alpha male grabs

a pack of jam doughnuts,

throws one to each of us

and puts the empty bag back on the shelf.

I ate that doughnut,

and for such a petty crime,

my heartrate stepped up double time –

every shopper was an undercover cop

hidden between the pretzels and pop.

So, at the grand age of twenty one

I got on the phone to my mum

and told her of my slip

into the criminal underworld,

how I was on the run from the checkout girl

‘I’m in the meat section, on the lam,

the infamous thief of doughnut jam.

A modern day Krispy Kreme Kray twin,

fallen victim to my sugary sin.

I’m on a comedown, but hyper, got a bit of a headache

I’m a junk food junky with the sugary shakes …’

She just laughed,

said ‘we all mistakes’,

and through chesty chuckles and a big old grin

said ‘try not to nick any doughnuts again’.

I look back, and the notebook’s been filled

and though it’s not eloquent, it’s real

and as I reread, I start thinking

that maybe people never really die,

the lessons they teach us live on inside,

helping you when life tightens the strain

and I can tell you now …

I never nicked any doughnuts again.


One Response to “Chris McLoughlin – SST8 Headline First Draft”

  1. MouthyPoets January 15, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    Hey Chris,

    Firstly – I am loving your creative process and approach – it feels very balanced, and considerate! I love that your not in a huge rush to edit and I agree, get the ideas first then tighten them after! Also like that you are thinking about the piece on the page already!

    I am not sure I understand this line – “just a thesaurus trying to feel,” ? Stands out as maybe something driven more by rhyme than sense also I actually love where you drop into line later in the poem when the stealing kicks in and this rhyme kind of takes a bit of momentum away from that.

    The beginning and ending when you talk about the book and briefly mention your mother, I feel like these bits need some more fleshing out before you edit. It feels like they don’t have the specificity or sensory elements that the central part does. I want seedless raspberry jam , tesco, and Krispy Cream.

    You say “through chesty chuckles and a big old grin”… but this description feels quiet easy, what was the chucked really like? Maybe a simile is needed here? What lessons are in that book? Can you give me a hint? Can you describe the book a bit more?

    It feels like the book is really important but it feels a bit too much like a generic book at the moment to justify how big a universal lesson it seems to simplify – I need to know what is so personal and specific about this book to you.

    … This poem is interesting, dynamic, accessible, important and fun – a unusually and amazing combination. I am so impressed to see something so sophisticated from a Mouthy newbie… not that I wasn’t expecting it.

    Well done! Cannot wait to see the next draft.

    Speak soon
    Debris x

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