DAY SEVENTY-NINE – Richard O’Brien

I trade futures contracts on my couch

after this exchange

There’s a block on the line
and the signals fritz
like a radio tuned
to the London Blitz
and I’m losing a fortune
in gigabits
when the light comes surging through;

and the numbers begin
their astounding dance
like a sketch of a house
in the South of France
and what filters the wheat
from the chaff of ‘Can’t’s
is a hidden process too.

Or at least, to the likes
of yourself; not me
(I have built up a tower
of solvency,
and you’re down in the dirt
and the dirt agrees
that it’s seen your sort before.)

When the future arrives
it will be like this:
not the gleeful surprise
of a birthday gift
but a cheque that is signed
by a practised wrist
once the past has been paid for.


Richard O’Brien’s latest pamphlet is A Bloody Mess (Dead Ink/Valley Press). His work has featured in Poetry London, The Salt Book of Younger Poets, and Campaign in Poetry: The Emma Press Anthology of Political Poems. In 2013 he read for BBC Radio 3’s ‘Proms Plus Late’ series, and in 2015 was a winner of the inaugural London Book Fair Poetry Prize. He is currently taking part in Myths and Monsters: a nationwide children’s poetry tour organised by the Emma Press. His verse play Free for All runs Aug 17-29th at theSpace@Surgeon’s Hall, at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

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