The Habits of Guilt
It summons up schooldays in the abattoir.
It scalds your lungs with unwanted smoke.
as it thumbs up your eyelids in the small hours
chaining you to the bleakest sounds
of wind, rain and broken homes.
Smooching beside you
with its tongue in your ear, it somehow whispers,
if you weren’t so dumb in the first place
I wouldn’t be here; then, gargling
a barrel of nails it staggers from bed
with sleep-yellow eyes and insecticide veins.
On the verge of your most brilliant punchlines
it cackles, bursting into brazen mockery,
ripping the airvalves of your resources,
completing the ruin of your confidence.
But it can be so nice to come home to . . .
with its pipe and slippers and cosseting cushions
dispensing permission to weep indulgently
as its barbs inflict delicious pain.