Paul Brookes

Beside Yourself


If you could be beside yourself,

grab the ectoplasmic umbilical

and emerge as a space cadet

on the seat beside you,

appear as a stranger who sits

down, invades your space,


for whom you politely make space,

smile quickly and absorb

yourself in your phone,

a book, a tablet,

and pray the unknown


doesn’t speak to you,

then the realisation,

that all your hesitancy

movement, smile, absorption

has been sharply mirrored


by them and you ask yourself,

are they taking the piss,

are they the one who stabbed

your wife, raped your children,

set fire to your home and sat

on the wall outside to see it burn?


And see a cord between both of you,

and wonder if you touch it,

would it get their unwanted attention.

How could you cut it and have done

with this uncalled-for connection?

And wish you still had the knife.






Wish to be a naked mole rat,

a penis with teeth,


live for 500 years,

hardly age, remain fit

healthy, robust heartbeat,

strong bones, sharp mind

high fertility, don’t feel pain,

elasticky skin makes me cancer-proof.


Wish to be a jellyfish,

sink to ocean floor,

fold in on myself,

regenerate back into a baby.


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