Oh Shillings!

Original creative and critical writing by Scott Morris

Category: Poetry


“More room,” creak the suburbs as they expand,
pulling their tarpaulin taut. Bollards tear and
out blossom hotels, kiosks, concrete ribs.

The cities expand, like so, with no break
until the cows are teetering on two feet,
left to graze in spray-white parking bays,

until “No room, no room!” cannot be gasped –
no room to gasp no more. Each inhale an opening
for another’s exhale. Lungs expand to conquer.

Now, tessellated by armpits, there’s no room.
Heads like cervic terrapins cry “No room!”, retreat!
choose a life in utero, placentas stacked like bathtowels,

like Russian dolls – and who has not looked at their
neighbours, envied peeling back the next man to
step in as into wellies and feel some room at last?
Cities expand like air sacs and by expanding fill
the football fields hung between electron and nucleus
and compress to one fleshy apple.

Only room then, when branches like bronchi
are pulled taut, downwards, by a species
condensed, inhaled into so many fleshy balls.



just like Wworth, shopping for bulbs at B&Q,
the poet crowbars a similar bargain from the local zoo,
rolled across midnight furniture to the patio doors,
tickling glass with one hand, in the other, stemming cords,
from his Santa sack
not got the son, but got the mother –
yeah, no baby’s gum but could he be bothered
to pull a Will and wait a season of
stagnant verse while the bulbs yawned

and stretched or – even worse – suppose it
dawned upon them all to just go back to sleep?
he’s a published poet, y’know, and can’t be waiting
on a weary Muse’s germinating.

and so this flatpack, bonsai hillock,
gushed over the patio from a crushed rockery,
and so these cliché Jackson howls,
these laid off spaniels and catapult crockery,
and so a court case pending, a divorce to be,
these letters from Royal Prevention of Cruelty.
and so this lone, bawling wolf,
yet another single mother
earning suburban scorn.
the alpine hunter, sonnetted centuries ago,
shunted from these trees through trunks of steel,
family friendly, a factory line womb of
hand-thrown steak and Bengali neighbours,
and so from those fourteen lines to
this concrete box in Coventry,

and so she poses tonight.

tonight he sits, sketchbook handy, in a
varicose deckchair, brandy cradled in a
zipped up fist,
tonight he will draw such flawless shapes,
to draw garnishing applause from shapely
applauders in evening halls and gowns,
to ensure such applauders now refer to our poet
only by surname,
“mister”, no longer.

nothing sublime about double yellow lines, no
romance to be pocketed in Lidl.
too many blocks of metered words, reversed into
same old spots every day; no dedicated
odes to condiments and nothing to rhyme with
he’s been dusting caviar into the water butts.
he’s been hacking the mains of the cul-de-sac,
to polish the moon and brush off the hatchbacks.
he’s been writing too long in what looks like cement,
and intended so much more – his brain’s with forests
and lakes, the crush of glaciers.
that must have been
just how they had it, but he’s getting suspicious.


Captain looks on a spin-stand harbour,
invisible for now but netted snugly about
frostbitten skin, all in thoughts of

cardigan wire and cratering eggs
and the reek of a welcome home.
He has no thought for Marjorie, nor

the sequined shoals shed between
his feet. And if he gave those thoughts,
might the smell shift spheres,

away from that breakfast table and onto
the tiles of a museum? Might the
eggs’ coastlines begin to recede

at the smack of some formaldehyde?

Captain domes the sea like a
contact lens; he narrows down
the search. Within the chain-linked

fifteen hours he’s set himself
(another fifteen, after the last)
must be his fish, there is nowhere else.

“His fish”, spoken like a cracked
tooth – his nets are lowering reluctantly.
Secretly, he is tugging for icthyosaurs,

a bigger tank, a bigger plaque,
a paragraphed legacy in a bigger book.
Before next morning, the boat will

be pointing homewards, half-achieving.

Not yet sleeping with the fishies
(but getting there), Captain, passing
downwards, passes our hero.

Nazumi, unleashed, acknowledges
him with fossilised sockets, craters
down which Captain could see the

unfurled ferning of an untouched, ugly
life. But his eyes drop like sombre cells,
like his yellowvest body towards the

sea floor as our phoenix-finned hero
rises, into the opening brackets of
Captain’s nets, a cough in its gills.

Deftly, it breaches the moon’s lit circle.