Chris McLoughlin – 2nd draft, Headline Show

25 Jan


So, here’s the second draft. I’m not happy with it, but there’s something there, and I think I just need to keep mining. Perhaps make it tighter, and more personal. (Also, there’s some lines in which I think clarity has been sacrificed for wordplay, and I’m not sure that’s a good trade off for a performance piece!)


In a cardboard box labyrinth,

curtains sealed from children’s laughter outside.

Between the leaning tower of pizza boxes

and dusty photo frames,

in a pile of probate forms and mortgage overdues,

lies a closed notebook.

It’s staring at me,

wondering which words I’ll use

to paint a person who used to be

but isn’t.

‘Dearest’, ‘Forever’, ‘Departed’

but it’s not real,

just abstract adjectives,

tripping over tall tails.

so I retreat to the fridge for another beer

buried between takeaway caskets

and mouldy jam.


And I remember

Tesco’s in September

with a second-hand crowd.

The Alpha male snatches

a packet of doughnuts,

chucks one to each of us

and tosses the dead bag back on the shelf.

I scoffed 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

tried not to sugar coat my slip

into the criminal underworld,

how I was on the run from the checkout girl

‘I’m on the lam, by the meat freezers

I’ve Home-Aloned the floor with glass and malteasers

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 laughed,

said ‘we all mistakes…’

(and with a chesty chuckle)

‘…but try not to nick any doughnuts again’.

I glance back, and the notebook’s filled

with my half thoughts and full stops.

It might not be eloquent, but it’s real

and as I reread, I start thinking

maybe people never die,

they live on inside,

helping you when life tightens the strain.

But when my moral compass hits the Bermuda triangle,

eyes blinded by the weekday struggles

I’ll see you roosting in your hospital bedsheet nest

saying ‘You’ll work it out,

you’re a good lad’.

I guess all I can do is try, then,

and wait for that moment,

we’re once more on the same side of the window pane,

and I can tell you

I never nicked any doughnuts again.


One Response to “Chris McLoughlin – 2nd draft, Headline Show”

  1. Anne February 1, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    This is a really well told story, there’s some lovely phrasing in it, I also know exactly/understand that moment you are describing. I kind of feel I want more of your mum in here. Her roosting in her hospital sheet and her cough isn’t enough for me. I need some way of knowing how she was your protector and confidante and all the other stuff that I feel is lurking underneath here.
    I’m not asking for an outpouring of your soul but I am asking to see more of what I saw when you first told this story at Panya’s session. There was a faltering sense about how you told us that story which has gone now.
    I wonder if you have free written all the feelings that surround this moment,this realisation that she’s not there to call now?
    I think it’s really hard to write about death when you have let someone go and are kind of ok with it. No wailing or gnashing or beating your chest- but maybe a bit of that behind the scenes in a free write would bring back a sense of fragility to this piece. Apogies if this comes across as a bit crass but this is a really touching moment to share with us, and one which a lot of people will identify with.

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