King Size (Ten Tons)

bring back, bring back, O bring back my Lenny to me, to me

bring back, bring back, O bring back my Lenny to me

some say he was buried under a courtyard

some say he was buried under a pit pit pit

but I know what my Lenny was buried under

he was buried under ten tons of

shine your buttons with Brillo

its only three ha’pence a tin tin tin

you can buy it or nick it from Woolworth’s

but I don’t think they’ve got any in in in

there was nothing left of him except a (tiny) wishbone

I only kept blunt knives in the house

after he flew away


my mouth shrank

the days were steep and sweltering

I was always trudging

going places I’d never seen before

with no sense of direction

asking strangers for the way

they never knew

we were all lost

heads bowed


I turned back the clocks

I was eighteen years old again

standing on the platform at Highbury & Islington

this time around I was slim

and I hadn’t smeared white pearlised cream eye make-up all over my face

in fact

I was wearing Dior Icon Barely There foundation

meticulously applied with sponges

dusted with translucent powder

by the way

you could smoke on the underground in those days


I sparked up a pristine white King Size

suckered my final drag

shot my arms out straight

leaned forward


minding the gap

dived into a brighter future


I am not a suicide

I am a cultivator of the art of mourning

the dreaded black column on your doorstep

head in my hands

shaking with grief

an encyclopedia of bereavement

weeping in town and country

well known as a wailer

foretelling deaths

easing departures

with practical, labour-saving solutions


ten trusty fingernails

scratching you livid





In life, Auntie Violet bit her nails to the raw bleeding stumps, betraying the chaos beneath her otherwise shag-piled perfection.

In death, Auntie Violet kept her nails sharp and pointed – ten razors slashing at arms length, or drawn in close to her ribs with bent elbows and much grimacing, making spooky shadows on the walls outside my house. Violet was weeping on my doorstep, predicting my death before Christmas, scratching her grief graffiti into the glosswork of my yellow front door, shredding my junk mail, tearing her hair out, digging her fingernails into her Barely There cheeks, clawing runnels of red in parallel lines down her face and wiping her bum on my welcome mat.

Haunted by the threat of losing my mind and with it much of my status I was ready to exorcise Violet: I unfurled my skins, licked them in all the right places, arranged them in all the best positions, spread tobacco in a worm’s length down the fold and scattered her ashes on top – judicious, malicious – I sealed the white tube, stuck in a roach, lit up, leaned back, got a lung-full.

Get it?

I disappeared her

like yesterday’s dog-end



my Lenny’s a lavatory cleaner

he cleans by day and by night

(and by night)

and when he comes home in the evening

he’s covered all over in

shine your buttons with Brillo

its only three ha’pence a tin

you can buy it or nick it from Woolworth’s

but I don’t think they’d let you in in in

~ by yearzerowriters on September 7, 2010.

6 Responses to “King Size (Ten Tons)”

  1. There’s no such thing as a bad entry from Penny. My hat’s off to you!

  2. Heikki is right. And King Size is your best yet. With this, you’re fulfilling your promise, emerging as a major writer.

  3. Super, some fabulous images there, great flow of language, as we expect.

  4. There are too many good lines in this to pick them all out, but I especially liked,
    ” betraying the chaos beneath her otherwise shag-piled perfection”
    “an encyclopedia of bereavement”

  5. A lyrical and literal maze of epic proportions. Absolutely love it…

  6. Stunning, stunning, STUNNING!
    I love this entire triptych.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: