Neil Randall is the author of the novels The Holy Drinker & The Butterfly and the Wheel (both to be published by Knox Robinson Publishing in 2014), & A Quiet Place to Die (Wild Wolf Publishing, 2013) and a short story collection, Tales of Ordinary Sadness (FeedARead, 2013). His short fiction and poetry has been published in the UK, United States and Australia.
The Girl with the Heart-Worn Sleeves
as soon as you sit down
you know it’s a mistake.
her beady drinker’s eyes
betray the lascivious promises
flickering on her full red lips.
something very bad happened to her once–
a violent lover, a calculated infidelity–
and now she apportions blame
to every man she meets.
sure of her power, she presumes
you will stay here all night,
buy her drinks, then take her to your bed.
she is the kind of woman
who leaves while you are asleep,
and when you wake up
your hand is on your cock,
but your cock is no longer attached to your body.
I Hope Your Children Die of Cancer
there are certain things in people’s lives
that are more important
to them than anything else.
it might be their lover.
it might be their children.
it might be their religion or their work.
it might be the vodka bottle or the credit card.
and while many of those things
may not be the kinds of things
you could ever find important,
surely you’re not ignorant enough
to doubt their existence.
Rainy Day Barmaid # 12 & 35
perhaps you like her
because she’s a captive audience.
she can’t turn her back
and walk away from you.
she has to smile, be friendly,
even laugh at your jokes,
pour you many strong drinks
without complaint or reproach,
bear the weight of your stare–
that rapist glint in your eyes–
the one the starts at her tits
and ends with her thighs.
and when her shift is over
she goes home and complains
about having to serve that creepy,
Pete was into everything
before it was fashionable.
he smoked weed, drank,
and shoplifted to order.
the only thing he hadn’t
tried yet was a girl,
and this frustrated him;
spots broke out on his skin.
at 13, Helen had too many
teeth in her mouth,
laughed like a spastic,
and her clothes reeked of piss.
but she gave hand-jobs
and blow-jobs for fags.
so one day, Pete took her
to the woods after school.
he paid her in advance
with two picture perfect Super-Kings.
in a secluded spot,
he pulled down his trousers and pants.
Helen spat into her palms
and rubbed them together.
Pete was already erect
but something was wrong:
his foreskin didn’t seem
to slide back at all–
only a glimpse of the head protruded.
this baffled Helen,
and she wrenched at it.
like he’d never done that before.
horrified, Helen let go of him–
there was a thick,
calcified mush behind his foreskin.
despite his maturity;
his knowledge of all things adult,
nobody had showed Pete
how to wash himself properly.
The Careless Loves of a Casual Nazi
I’m only good for a night
and (maybe) a morning
of drunken high kicks,
100 mph chat, laughter,
and risky, uncomplicated sex.
then, when another fleeting sweetheart
this man has no real job,
no money, that the wine
from last night was stolen,
and that he lives in a cave with a monkey
(and while that might be
somebody else’s story),
the ending, for me, is always the same.
My Beautiful Friend
when we took drugs
my friend often said,
‘I feel really fucked right now,
but if I can acknowledge how fucked I am,
can I really be that fucked?’
he used to get all disappointed.
he couldn’t stand anything partial or watered-down.
he wanted to do more than just blur life’s edges.
when he fell in love,
he fell really hard.
for those honeymoon months
he was the world’s happiest man.
but when the intensity started to wane
he used to get all disappointed,
more with himself, than anything else.
‘I know I really love her, always will,
but there are so many other women I want to screw.’
my friend wrote a book
that nobody wanted to publish.
he spent years working on it,
and I read it, and it was a very beautiful thing.
he used to get all disappointed,
not just with the rejection slips,
but with the fact he’d done
exactly what he wanted to do,
and regardless, it hadn’t got him
to where he wanted to be.