Wednesday 20 January 2021

Three Poems by Neil Fulwood



Push yourself harder. The advice was unanimous:
from trainers, colleagues and armchair runners.


So I pushed myself. Muscles and lungs and heart
protested. I pushed myself. The slap of feet


on grass or pavement was a slap in the face
to forty years of shirking. I pushed myself.


Arms pumping, fists loosely clenched, I was
a boxer limbering up, ready to KO a lifetime


of being a slob. I pushed myself. Everything hurt
and just to breathe was like being a fire-eater.


I pushed myself harder. And harder still. And
something gave, something imploded or exploded


or acted in a way it hadn’t before. The point is:
something was different. The film stock


had changed or become oversaturated. Or
the soundtrack wiped of sound. Something


like that. It wasn’t easier, just different.
And I didn’t know whose it was anymore,


that phantom hand on my back, pushing me.






Powder blue, hood down. My dad

behind the wheel, donkey jacket

and a quiff like Eddie Cochran.

Ma rocking the Mary Quant look.


The camera was invented for this,

the internal combustion engine justified.





The Saturday before Storm Ciara

really gets into gear, 11pm limbering up

for the final push toward midnight -


I’m jockeying a double decker

through the university campus, 

each buffet of wind a one-inch punch.


Some of the students are drunk

and coming back, some are drunk

and going out, some are traipsing the grounds


drunk and in charge of a kebab,

slightly confused at the bus-shaped object

they’re standing in front of. My dad,


the truck driver, would have leaned on the horn

and sped up; watched them run.

I slow to a crawl, let them disperse,


another clout from Ciara rocking the bus.

I have a five-minute layover 

at the next stop, doors open, leaves


gusting into the cab. Another round trip

then back to the garage.

And a ten-minute walk to the car


after midnight, through streets unsafe

for more than just the usual reasons.



Neil Fulwood was born in Nottingham, England, where he still lives and works. He has published two pamphlets with The Black Light Engine Room Press, Numbers Stations and The Little Book of Forced Calm; and two full collections with Shoestring Press, No Avoiding It and Can’t Take Me Anywhere. His third collection, Service Cancelled, is due for publication later this year. 

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