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Ian Mullins
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Fire Down Below

 

by Ian Mullins

 

 

Sometimes my cocks a plastic cigarette lighter
you can buy on the street
half a dozen for a pound;
I can flick the switch all night long
without ever striking a spark.

Other days it
s my old digital watch
with the red laser display
so sharp I could tell time through my shirt,
no more tiny stubborn hands
oiling the hours away.

But now I tell time
by how firm I am when I wake;
if it
s soft like a kitten warm in its sandbox
I know its 2 A.M.
and there still time to steal a little sleep
from the streetlight
hanging its sorry head outside my window;
but if its hard and cold
like a poker chip the first time you roll it
through your fingers
I know it
s 5:30 A.M.
and the boiler is priming to spout its heat

 

the same way Ill prime mine,
working hard to beat the 6 A.M. deadline
before I crawl out of bed
and jerk through the sexless daylight
where balls are nailed to walls


and if I open up my pants
to read the hour
laser-sharp in bright green veins
all I
ll find is an old windup watch
that doesn
t even remember
what it means to tell the time.

 

 

Scalp

 

by Ian Mullins

 

 

Every first time
is the same; ants crawling
the length of my skin
as though sizing me up
for scalping, yellow needle
fat as a newborn baby child
waiting as a loaded gun
waits; already the barrel
smells of the bullet,
the trigger finger cocked,
liquid bullets soft as water

heavy as gold

 

can you lift it,
can you bear the weight,
can you scalp your own skin
once again?

 

 

Bottled Up

 

by Ian Mullins

 

 

I can talk to an empty bottle
lounging on a wall
in the cheap city sunlight
shiny as half a credit card


read everything it has to say,
label on the front
competition on the back
the way the long sun melts
its plastic to soft ice cream,
the tales told by the flies
who shit down its mouth
or buzz inside its stomach,
the tremble of its skin
when a truck goes by
or a little girl wall-walking
steps over its head


and for a moment it
s midnight
at 2P.M.;
there are shadows in bottle-world
warmer than the skin

on the back of your hand
as you lift another bottle to your lips,
drip the last drips
like drops of sunlight
from a melting sun
then say something human
that me and the bottle
cooling our fingers
now the sun has begun
it
s long slow dive

will never find a summer
we can never understand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kiss This

 

by Ian Mullins

 

 

You can kiss it
lick it
bite it
whip it
but don
t fuck it
whatever you do;

when it comes to cream
I like chocolate
I like strawberry
I like toffee and ginger
banana and mint;

vanilla me
and I
ll spit
in your face.

 

 

 

Whats the Beef?

 

by Ian Mullins

 

 

Dont go there
man; there are places
where secrets
hide their secrets
and dreamers
distill their dreams;
places where shadows
are made out of stone
and snowfalls are cut diamonds
sharpening the night
like a knife through paper.


Through those cuts
you
ll see things
that don
t want to be seen;
even knowing
they are alive
would kill them like a live bug
you find under your shoe;


but there
s no way that bee
can ever lug its candy

home, never know that

home is just a dream
scratched on the side of a snowflake
melting beneath
your very first breath,
hot dry hands
beneath your very first dress,


so don
t go there,
man: not unless you
re dreaming
of never coming back.

 

 






dirtywhitegirl.jpg

Dirty White Girl

 

by Ian Mullins

 

 

 

Fingers reek of manila,
but I close them on the umbrella
where Donna
s long fingers
tipped with black varnish
must have closed

when she walked out into the rain:

but halfway cross the street
I imagine she stopped,
lowered the black shield
and opened her clothes,
and while the green light filled up with water
the wetness poured down
over her dirty white breasts
and washed the day
s filth

deep into her skin.

No wonder she smiled
when she brought back my umbrella,
wet from the rain glistening the jewels
buried in her nails, damp ghosts


I press my stubby digits over
to jerk the same button, a diamond in the wood.
Watching the black shield
catch the white seed;
cold stars firing up the night sky.

 

 

 


dontdoit.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2017

Dont Do It, It Aint Worth It


 


By Ian Mullins


 


 


Ball me into clay
and make me a skinny white boy
who lives in New Orleans
walks into bars bare-chested
hoops burning through his nipples
who fucks black men in the ass
and white girls in the mouth,



lives in a stolen room
in a condemned house
and writes as hard as he comes,
spraying black and white words


over the walls, the floor,
the ceiling
then scrapes it all off
packs it in a box
sends it to New York City


where some fat guy
living in a cubicle
not much bigger than the coffin
he already bought
smears the hot words
over his skin
until it burns his suit off
like brandy smoking a hot sauce


 


and soon hes nothing but bones
strutting New York streets
looking for a hooker to hose down,
a life that
s worth living.


 


 



Dropping the Ball

 

by Ian Mullins

 

 

 

coming out

hopeless

useless

no good to anyone

 

the last taboo
unwritten in ink
below names
even the people
they went to school with
only remember
as shadows on demolished walls

 

the bodies that made up
the numbers
the hands that dropped
the ball

 

the only face
in the class photograph
who couldn
t fake a smile
long enough
for history to say

 

welcome home . . .

now what was your name again?

 

 

 

Dirty Pink Lipstick

 

by Ian Mullins

 

Im sure theyll tear you down
one day, when I
ve forgotten
how much I need you here

with your pink lips
shining like roses after brief spring rain,
eyes brown as chestnuts
broken on the ground;

and then I
ll remember
I was too ashamed to stop and stare
because faces I did not know
and did not need to know
poured down on me
the hard-faced rain this city pours
into the deep wells of eyes


to shame the saying of yes, she is beautiful,
she is a poster in the city
a girl on the bus a woman on the train,

and we will bury her, yes,
along with the rest. Your look

has fashioned her tomb.



Wrestlin Gal

 

by Ian Mullins

 

 

 

Who are you girl,
with your Madonna-half gloves
and your tight-cheek thong,
kneeling before these twitching
pale-legged men
inviting their arms to clamp
your breasts
your milken thighs

so you can slip through their hands
like shampoo through hair,
tossing them aside like fleshy rags

before you kneel on the mat
again and again
and invite them to take you down?




Between Takes

 

by Ian Mullins

 

Psycho    Dir: Hitchcock

 

 

I'd love a movie

of all the outtakes

they never bothered

to film: the cold coffee

sipped, the yawns

frustrated; all the stuff

we leave behind

and would love to

live without. The dreams

Marion Crane dreamt

as she slept in her car

on the way to the motel,

oblivious to the last sunrise

rising black and white

over the hood of her car.

 

And what happened

to the car? By chance

it avoided the swamp,

never became the metal coffin

she would sleep in

fitfully and briefly,

before they dragged her

from the water

and reeled her eyes

back to the daylight she flees

again and again—every time

I rewind the movie.

 

 

 

Ian Mullins ships out from Liverpool, England. The music-themed collection Laughter In The Shape Of A Guitar (UB) was published in 2015. The autism-themed chapbook Almost Human (Original Plus) followed in 2017. Masks and Shadows (Wordcatcher), a collection of superhero poems, took to the skies in October 2019.



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