I Had Had


I had had 

(a few too many) [a good night’s sleep], 

And so, when the heavy morning light, which filtered 

Like a sweet, blonde roast drip through the  

Paper tutu 

Of curtain bit me vampirically,  

(I could hardly find my head. A pervading) 

[I met the day without the usual cloistering] 


Dread-sense. I have never counted blessings. 

They have felt, even before the accident, 

A rug waiting to pull. A beautiful rug  


And with wonderous, tall rings of pile apt  

To sink weary feet into. But all’s the more 

Reason not to— 

(Trust the gifts that land in our paths)


[—maybe now is the time to let it go?] 

(My shoes are not where I left them)  

It takes me [no time to find both glossy heels]. 

Two circuits of my cramped studio, 

(To find what was hastily kicked off). 

My ire, the predictable cost of  

[A sleep so deep it sets]  

(Just one more Mojito). 


Fire in my calves. I ease into red pleather,  

(Buried under hills of skirt and pea coat).  

My limp is (Much better) [unbearable]  

Today. I blame the [early night] (alcohol) for  

[Tightening] (loosening)  

Tender, damaged muscles which  

Will plague me 

Until new pills are discovered. 


I think of him again. The way he walked 

Out when I could not. 

(It still hurts) [this ache fades]  

Though my train does not care. 

(I am late) [I am late] again.  

[I can’t afford] (I can’t afford) to  

Keep (fucking up) [screwing up]  

Like this. 


My [limp] (racing mind) 

Threatens to slow me, but 

I know this journey well. 

(I power walk) [take a shortcut], 

But nothing ever seems to  

Be enough.  

I lean against the wall and 

[Massage the deep-raked] scars from 

Days gone, moments I can only replay 

With a detached analytic.


(Curiosity pull me back into a whirlwind  

Of awful thoughts, which) hurt. 

I call in [sick], (to tell my boss that) 

My (fucking) train [doesn’t care that it] 

Will be pulling  

Into the station 

Without me, and honestly, 

One way or the other, 

(He’s going to have to learn live with that). 

[I think I can learn to live with that]. 

Kurt Van Ristell (he/him) is a poet, author, and artist living in South London. He works in education, in Lambeth, which is a storyteller’s boon. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Bandit Fiction, Sledgehammer Lit, Horned Things and PostScript Magazine.

Find me on twitter @secretvan